A Great Reflection from Donna Franke and the Blue Wahoos Event

Dylan, one of the children I represent loves baseball. He has an amputated foot and had broken his hip. Dylan would soon be having surgery to repair this injury. Dylan wanted to play on the school baseball team. Unfortunately, he was not picked to play on the school’s team. I wanted to help, I reached out to one of our board members. He had persuaded the Foundation Board to sponsor a recognition event for Guardian ad Litems (GALs) and the children they represent by attending a Blue Wahoo’s GAL appreciation night. He arranged for Dylan to throw out the first pitch and meet the team.

Dylan was so excited and told anyone who would listen that he was going to meet the team. I invited 10 boys from Dylan’s former placement a local group home and 3 of their caregivers. I invited all the children I represent as well as their caregivers, this included Dylan’s brothers and sisters as well as Dylan’s new adoptive family and their children.

Dylan had his hip repair surgery and was released 2 days prior to the game. Many of the board members visited Dylan in the hospital and were excited for him.

Finally, the big night arrived. Dylan and his brother Kanyon rode with me to the game. When we arrived, Dylan left to meet the team and get ready for his big pitch! I waited outside the stadium with his brother for their siblings, their caregivers and friends to arrive. We were fortunate to be seated together in one section.  What a fun night. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see the children we represent having such a great time. Dylan was so happy to be the center of all this attention. The board members and our fellow GALs were socializing with each other and the children. The boys from the group home who are low functioning and have behavioral problems were riveted watching the game and didn’t give us a minute’s trouble. The care givers were joking around and laughing. Dylan’s younger brother, who is so distant, was dancing around smiling and playing with his younger siblings. Even I relaxed and just took it all in.

It was such a delight to watch all the kids oohing and ahhing at the fireworks, their faces all turned up to the sky, eyes wide with anticipation. I hope we can organize events like this more often.  As GALs we strive to give the children we represent normalcy. This one night, for these few hours, we could all forget the horror stories of abuse and neglect that brought us all together and just watch a baseball game.  This event was really one of the happiest days I’ve spent as a Guardian ad Litem.

6 Replies to “A Great Reflection from Donna Franke and the Blue Wahoos Event”

  1. What a great event and a fantastic turnout for the game. It is so nice to hear the reaction by Dylan and the other GAL kids. Partnering with the FNA and the Student nurses from UWF and NW FL State made for a fun evening. Hope we can do it again!

    1. Although I was away and could not attend, I was able to share in this child’s enthusiasm through Donna’s reflections! It’s in moments like this that we as GALs know why we do what we do and are grateful that we have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child!

  2. What a great write up Donna! Thanks so much for bringing such happiness into the lives of these children. And Thank you David for taking the initiative and making this all happen. It is a pleasure and privilege to serve as a part of this Foundation.

  3. Donna, you are an amazing example of a true child advocate. Dylan is very fortunate to have you in his corner. I am eternally grateful for our Foundation and for the efforts and dedication provided to “our” children.

    Do we make a difference? I think that is perhaps best answered by children like Dylan and I’m sure his answer is an emphatic “YES! When he needed it most, we surrounded this young man with Love and support. It is an honor to know Dylan. He will be a good man and he will one day make a big difference for others – and I hope that we have all had a small part in making that happen.

    If anyone would like to see it, I recorded a video of Dylan’s pitch!

  4. Bryan, I was overwhelmed trying to figure how to keep Dylan from feeling alone and scared after going through major surgery. He was alone with no family in a hospital two hours from my home. I reached out to you and my fellow board members to help. You stepped in and not only arranged for a wonderful Cam Mike Harris to courtesy for me. You also took the time to visit Dylan yourself. Mike and Dylan hit it off immediately. Mike visited almost daily and brought cookies and cream milkshakes and whatever Dylan asked for. David not only arranged for Dylan to throw out the pitch and meet the team, he visited as well. Carolyn brought lunch,snacks and a Itunes card so he could download music. Joan and Julie after meeting Dylan at another event adopted him as well. The Gal program and board members made a huge impact on Dylan . He sent me pictures every time you visited. You all showed him so much love. I am so proud to be associated with such a wonderful group of people who truly are for the child!

  5. Thank you, Donna for being such an exemplary child advocate!
    Dylan is a fortunate young man to have had you “going to bat” for him for so many years.
    It was a fun event. Thanks to David for organizing the event and thanks to all who attended. Hopefully more such occasions can be planned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.