In October of 2021, Kevin Negaard called me. He had read A Year of Playing Catch and wanted to take it to the next level — playing catch for a year to raise $100,000 for his local Miracle League. (Kevin is on Day #227 today and has already raised $160,000. Amazing.)
I thought Kevin’s idea sounded brilliant, so, in January 2022, I traveled to Iowa for his Opening Day event and we played catch.
At that event, I met Dustin. Dustin is the owner of Ability Tech which makes adaptive technology and inventions for people with varied needs. Ability Tech was born because of Dustin’s son, Kayden.
Kayden played ball in the Miracle League. While watching Kayden play, Dustin had an idea for an invention. The Switch Hitter. By pushing a button with his head, Kayden can hit a ball when he wants to. At the event in January in Iowa, I watched multiple videos of Kayden hitting. I cheered every single time.
And at that same event, Kevin challenged Dustin, “You have one year to invent something so I can play catch with your son.”
Dustin did it in 3 months.
In honor of Kevin’s catch-playing year, the device is called the “W.H.A.C.” – Wanna Have a Catch.
Kayden’s first game of catch, however, was not with Kevin. His first game of catch was with his mom, Shanna.
Dustin then entered the device in a contest for entrepreneurs.
He won first place.
In September, Dustin and Shanna and Kayden will be traveling from Sioux City, Iowa to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to play in the Miracle League National All-Star Game. They’ll be coming through Springfield.
On Sunday, September 11, the Ozark Mountain Ducks play against the Branson Showmen in a game at high noon.
Kayden will throw out the first pitch at that game.
I know that Sundays are days for worship and rest, going to church and family lunches and afternoon siestas on the couch. I might be wrong, but I think there are Sundays where being the church means going to the ballpark to cheer on a 15-year old ballplayer.
My dream is that, just like the fans at Citi Field in New York rose to celebrate Timmy Trumpet playing Edwin Diaz’s walkup song live, baseball fans across southwest Missouri will come to cheer on Kayden as he throws out the best first pitch.