East Carolina Baseball Team Makes James Elpers' Dream Come True
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina baseball team helped an 11-year-old’s wish come true Friday when James Elpers found out that he and his family will be going to Disney World, a wish granted by Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina.
Third-year head coach Cliff Godwin told James about the trip Friday afternoon at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium before the Pirates held an intra-squad scrimmage. The Pirates, who invited James and his baseball team to the scrimmage, revealed the wish before taking the Elpers’ family on a tour of baseball facility.
“It was an unreal moment. First time I (or the team) have been able to grant someone’s wish," Godwin said, "Garrett Blackwelder had a big part in this communicating with Marilyn (Rosenthal) with the Make A Wish Foundation and said James was a huge baseball fan, and we thought we could bring him out to the baseball field today and grant his wish.”
Seeing James’ smile And making his dream come true meant a lot to Godwin who said the feeling was mutual for he and his team as well.
“As good as it was for James, it was just as good for our kids to see what James goes through everyday just to go out and play baseball. Sometimes he has to be connected to a vest four times a day to play a game that sometimes our kids and even myself take for granted. So it was good for our kids to see how they can impact someone’s life.”
Godwin said James’ situation has had an impact on the East Carolina team.
“Anytime someone is coming out fighting a disease and just loves the play the game of baseball, that’s a tremendous impact on our players," said Godwin, ”James has cystic fibrosis and has been fighting the disease for years. One of his favorite past times is baseball so having the team share the good news on his upcoming wish is a dream come true."
ECU senior Charlie Yorgen said, "Being able to help James and make his wish its truly unreal, its special and a special moment for a student-athlete to do stuff like that.”
“My arm is worn out. He was out there throwing it hard from the start and he will probably be playing second base in the scrimmage now. But it was an awesome experience to be able to play catch with him.”
Being a role model in this kind of situation was big for the Pirate senior.
“Being a student-athlete here (East Carolina), it’s a privilege, it’s a 24-7 thing and its awesome. It’s the best privilege I’ve had in my life and its special for all these kids to know that you make a difference, it really means a lot and its one of the coolest parts of playing baseball here.”