by Aaron Rhomberg, Clarke Sports Information Student Assistant
Giving back to the community is something that not only helps build character, but can give one a new outlook on life. For the Clarke baseball team and their head coach, Chad Harris
, their experience showed them how precious life is.
Harris felt going to the Children's Hospital in Iowa City could have a great impact on his player's lives, as well as the children the team visited.
"It's very important to involve kids in our program, and with this visit we have a chance to brighten the day of kids who are stuck in a hospital," Harris said. "Even though many of the kids were feeling pain, seeing the players put a smile on the children's faces."
For the three hours the team visited with the kids, they seemed happy and at least for a little while, had a break from reality.
The Clarke players did a variety of things with the kids at the hospital. Some sat and talked, some players visited individual rooms and some played bingo. Others had wheel chair races in the hall.
Harris hopes that the team realizes just how much the children really look up to them as college athletes.
"Sometimes it's tough for a 19 or 20-year-old to understand the type of impact they can have on a child's life," Harris said. "I hope when all is said and done, both groups, my players and the kids we hung out with, will all remember this day and be able to smile about it."
Freshman Chris Brewer said visiting the hospital is an experience he will never forget.
"It was an uplifting feeling for me personally," said Brewer, a native of West Sacramento, California. "Seeing the smiles on the kids' faces and listening to them giggle sure was something special. I look forward to going back next year and creating more lifelong memories."
Another player impacted by the trip was Jared Krasselt, a junior education major from Chili, Wis., who took away a lesson that cannot be taught in the classroom. A few days after visiting the kids he wrote a letter to Coach Harris explaining what the experience taught him.
"Seeing all of these kids struggle with their lives makes you really think when you don't want to run that last sprint or do that paper," said Krasselt. "How hard do I really have it?"
The experience showed Krasselt that while these kids do have it rough, they manage to show strength to make it through another day. Krasselt also recalled one kid who was not in a good mood at first because of a fever but was still willing to play trucks with him. Seeing the joy that activity brought the child brightened Krasselt's day as well.
"It was more than a pleasure to be a part of the kids' day and hopefully when they look at the T-shirt or signed ball they received from us that it puts a smile on their face."
Josh Duncan, a sophomore pitcher from Bourbonnias, Ill., had a different perspective when visiting the hospital, being a former patient at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
"My first thought when I arrived and saw the parents with the children was of my own parents and what they had to go through when I was in the hospital as a child," Duncan said, remembering back to his hospital stay. "I personally know the impact of this activity on the children from my own experience, but it is a different type of joy from the other side. Just to know that my visit will stick with this child for their life is worth more to me than anything else I could do in a day or lifetime."
Harris said it was tough to leave the hospital
"As we were leaving, it hit me that we had the choice to just leave when we wanted--the kids don't have that choice," said Harris. "As we leave and get back to our normal lives, they are still in their hospital beds without the choice to go home when they are ready to go home. It just goes to show how strong they really are. Both the parents and the children are fighters and are valiant people."
The trip to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital was the second annual trip for the Clarke College baseball team. Harris said as long as he feels like the trip has a positive impact, his team will continue to go to Iowa City each fall to visit the kids.