Gift of Love: Joey Honored By UT Tyler Baseball Team
Irwin Field at UT Tyler is quiet today as the baseball team gathers to remember their explosive year. Looking up at the scoreboard, #7 Joey is still in lights. This 9 year old foster child, confined to a wheelchair, was named an honorary team member at the start of the season.
"I went to the locker room that night after the announcement and every player had Joey's picture above their locker. To me, that just reinforced the love and belief that this is a teammate, a brother, and Joey was a part of our family," says Coach James Vilade.
Joey now has two families after being adopted last year by Larry and Evelyn Moore. "When we get out his UT Tyler Patriot shirt he knows he's going to a game. He gets excited and laughs," says Evelyn, Joey's mom. His dad Larry adds, "Joey understands. He can't tell you, but he's in there."
That was evident on this day, as the team makes a presentation to Joey. Coach Vilade says, "2007 was a great year. We made a promise to you Joey and we're going to make good on our promise. We promised you that if we won a championship, you were going to get a ring."
With a blinding sparkle, a giant championship ring is placed on Joey's fingers. Joey's face lit up with a big smile.
After the presentation, Coach Vilade said, "To give him that ring to Joey, was one of the greatest moments of my life it really was. It was exciting."
The excitement continued as the team surprised the rest of Joey's family presenting a ring to his dad and pendants to his mom and their other adopted special needs child, Brittany.
Looking at the shimmering pendant Evelyn says, "It's beautiful. Thank you, thank you all so much."
Looking at the players who had gathered on the field Larry says, "Overwhelmed is a word that wouldn't even match up to the feeling I have right now."
Despite being a championship team, baseball is just a game to these athletes. But what they have learned in the process is life changing. "It's about our kids. It really is. It's about finding ways to make a difference in a child's life." says Coach Vilade.
"It was amazing just to touch someone and have them touch us," says Chris Goss, a member of the team.
Another player, Kendall Fox, adds, "Joey made me grateful for the things that I have and he made me realize that it's not about what I can do but about those who give their all everyday and I need to go out and do my best. Joey changed my life."
Assistant Coach Kyle Welsh, also in a wheelchair, shares a special connection to Joey. In fact, it was Kyle who first came up with the idea to help Joey. "The good Lord gave me a second chance and the least I can do is help Joey. I love him. I enjoy doing it."
As Evelyn looks back on their relationship with the UT Tyler baseball team she says, "This many young men with one goal, caring and sharing with someone they didn't even know has been pretty awesome." Larry adds, "It has given us knew faith in human beings. It really has."
A magical season for a very special boy. "I never thought anything like this would happen. They gave Joey legs and an arm to swing a bat," says Evelyn.
And today, this champion player, #7 Joey Moore made a victory lap around Irwin Field. "Not every kid gets a shot to come into a great situation but Joey got a shot. We've made the most of it. He's made the most of it and he'll always be on our roster, no question," says Coach Vilade watching Joey round the bases in his wheelchair.
Larry too, says Joey and their family will remain a part of the team returning for next season's games. He says, "We just can't say enough about you guys. God Bless you."
One boy, sharing the Gift of Love from two very special families.
Saturday, July 26 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-26 18:09:07 GMT
A mysterious 'Woman in Black' has been spotted around the Tri-State in recent days, causing social media to erupt with questions about her identity. According to WATE in Tennessee, the Sullivan CountyMore >>
A mysterious 'Woman in Black' has been spotted around the Tri-State in recent days, causing social media to erupt with questions about her identity.More >>