Greysen Strong Field Day supports young ball player battling rare illness
By Chapin Jewell
RIDGELEY - On Saturday, July 25, a special event for a special young man battling a rare illness took place at the Hawks and Rams football field in Ridgeley.
The event, dubbed the “Greysen Strong Field Day,” was jam-packed with fun activities for the kids, and was successful, not just in terms of attendance, but in raising money to support a great cause.
The cause? Raising money to help offset the medical expenses of Greysen McCullough, a Mineral County youth and member of the Ridgeley Hawks football team recently diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), a rare disease that affects mostly children.
In response to the news of Greysen’s diagnosis, his friends and their parents immediately sprung into action to organize activities to show their emotional and physical support, as well as to raise funds to help ease the financial burden on the family.
“There were a couple moms who organized the event. They are a little tight knit group of boys. So, when we found out that Greysen was diagnosed with LCH, the boys started asking what they could do to help him,” one of the events organizers, Jackie Laffey, stated.
According to Laffey, “They made him a video at first to send to him to let him know they had his back. Then we started planning events that could raise money for his medical expenses. We did a Home Run Derby for him a few weeks ago, which was a great success.”
In terms of the scope, the “Greysen Strong Field Day Event” was large and required a great deal of planning. As the community at large, local organizations and businesses were solicited to help with or donate to the event, it became a true community effort.
“There were some businesses that either contributed their time or donated items for us to raffle off. Kona Ice, the Joint Training Facility out of Grantsville and the Wheelhouse Academy from Fort Ashby had stations set up for the kids during the field day. They brought the fun,” Laffey stated.
According to Laffey, “the Joint Training Facility had soccer darts, light battle and snook ball stations set up. Sharing Life Ministries from Ridgeley allowed us to use the Community Center. Rowe Printing made shirts and travel mugs to sell at the event. In addition, we auctioned off items from several places as well.”
Items raffled off included two wreaths, a quilt, a gift basket from Faith Creek at The Barn, a $ 50 gift card to Ristorante Ottaviani, a Beachbody basket, Mary Kay basket, Wheelhouse Academy gift certificate, and a thirty minute massage at Total Health.
By all accounts, the event was a great success, both in terms of a solid turnout, and the fun enjoyed by those in attendance.
“We had a good turn out. Even people who didn't know Greysen or the McCullough family personally came out to support him and this great cause. The kids seemed to have a blast between all the different stations that were set up,” Laffey explained.
According to Laffey, “Wheelhouse set up a station where you could test exit velocity batting off a tee, as well as a different one to test pitching velocity. They gave away $10 iTunes gift cards to the highest velocity reached in each age group. The kids loved that. They would go in the Community Center and play dodgeball and basketball when they got too hot. We also had a bake sale.”
While smiles were a plenty at the Greysen Strong Field Day event, those smiles grew much larger when a surprise visitor, Greysen himself, made an unexpected appearance, two days after having surgery in Morgantown.
“We had no idea Greysen was going to show up. He had just had surgery Thursday morning and had gotten home from WVU Friday morning. So, we didn't think they would get to come to the Saturday event. The boys freaked out when he pulled in. They were so happy to see their buddy and know he was in good spirits and feeling good,” Laffey explained.
While Greysen has a tough and challenging road ahead as he battles LCH, as the expression goes, his teammates, friends and their families have vowed that “nobody fights alone.” There have been successful fundraising events held in his honor, but the biggest and best support Greysen has received is from his buddies just being buddies.
To the kids, supporting one another just comes natural. They also have the positive influence of their parents who have very supportive of Greysen’s cause. As Jackie Laffey points out, “That's just what friends and our small community does when one of our own is in need.”