By: Alli King / Indianapolis Indians
The Indianapolis Indians made their annual visit to Riley Children’s Hospital on Monday, July 1 with expectations of visiting with kids, signing some autographs and taking a few pictures.
What they didn’t expect was the emotional experience they found as they walked into the room of three-year-old patient Kolton Mitchell.
Mitchell is a patient of Riley Children’s Hospital and has been diagnosed with the two rare conditions of Aplastic Anemia and Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). Aplastic Anemia affects roughly just one-to-two individuals out of every one million people, preventing bone marrow from producing enough new blood cells the body needs to function, while HLH also affects the body’s immune system.
While Mitchell was playing a game with his nurse and mother, Indians players Ivan DeJesus, Brett Carroll, Felix Pie, Stolmy Pimentel and Darren Ford entered the child’s hospital room. Instantly, Mitchell’s face lit up with excitement when he saw the team arrive in their jerseys for a surprise visit.
The Tribe players brought the child as close as possible to his love of baseball by inventing a new version of batting practice with Mitchell, while he told the team about his favorite movies, Angels in the Outfield and The Sandlot. The players then gave Mitchell an autographed Indianapolis Indians water bottle as a souvenir, which he held in one hand while he swung a bat with the other, despite his nurse’s effort to help.
Mitchell’s mother teared up as she took pictures of the players with her son and told everyone how special the afternoon was because Kolton has such a passion for baseball.
When the players prepared to leave, Mitchell’s mother wasn’t the only one in tears as her son also began to cry from receiving such a special visit. Several of the players gave Mitchell a goodbye hug to help cheer him up, and as they exited the hospital, the team even found themselves becoming emotional as well.
It only took the players 15 minutes of their day to make a huge impact on the Mitchell family. What started as an annual visit for the Indians team quickly turned into a memorable moment that won’t be soon forgotten.
And it’s afternoons like Monday that remind the players just how easy and rewarding it can be to make someone’s day special.