It started as an assist from one rival to another.
What seemed like a harmless pass from Farmington’s Jeremy Mueller to Prairie Grove’s McKay Gregson but it’s grown into something much bigger than the pair could have ever imagined.
Gregson was born with 22-Q-11 deletion syndrome. Since that night on Feb. 14, the two communities have raised money by selling t-shirt. Thursday they got much more.
Ryan Dempster, a 16-year Major League Baseball veteran, was in Prairie Grove on Thursday to present the two with the first ‘The Pitching In Award’ from the Dempster Family Foundation. It is a foundation that the retired pitcher started just before his daughter, Riley, was born with the syndrome.
“As a foundation to come out and give these kids an award and just congratulate them for doing things the right way,” Dempster said. “That’s what this is all about.”
When Dempster started the foundation, he envisioned being able to reward good sportsmanship while bringing awareness to 22-Q-11. That February night was exactly what his foundation was thinking.
“Great sportsmanship and excellent awareness that was spontaneous,” executive director of the Dempster Family Foundation Michelle Breedlove said. “It wasn’t purchased by anybody. It wasn’t facilitated by anybody. It just happened and it was a beautiful thing and we couldn’t help but want to get out here as soon as humanly possible.”
The two communities were able to raise money by selling ‘Team McKay’ shirts in hopes to raise money and awareness of 22-Q-11. Thursday they got the chance to give back to Dempster with a check.
“Over $2,000, which is insane. I had no idea,” Mueller said. “These two rival communities coming together to sell those t-shirts and get the word out about 22-Q-11 is just awesome and super cool to be able to raise that money for the foundation.”
“The awareness that it’s brought for 22-Q community has been overwhelming and we’re just glad we’re here as the Dempster Family Foundation to support it,” Dempster said.
The Dempster Family Foundation also gave both McKay and Mueller each a $1,000 education scholarship.