Dec. 11, 2019
History was made on April 18, 2015 when the Biola University baseball team announced the signing of its youngest player, five-year-old Colton Ribeiro. Ribeiro, who lives down the street from Biola, suffers from the potentially terminal illness mitochondrial disease. This year, players on the baseball team welcomed Ribeiro to the team by going to dinner with him, attending some of his T-ball games, allowing him to throw the first pitch at a Biola game and presenting him with a jersey at the last home game of the season.
“We do this as a team because Christ has given us that example. We desire to love others as he has loved us,” said Biola baseball head coach Jay Sullenger. “We are apart of a community here at Biola that is called to live that out in whatever God has called us to do. For us as a baseball team, we desire to display the love of Christ through baseball.”
The team first met Ribeiro and his family when a few players on the team attended a fundraiser created to raise awareness of mitochondrial disease. At the fundraiser, Ribeiro was given a team baseball cap and invited to his first Biola baseball game by some of the players.
“I would hope Colton has been blessed by our time together. I know his family has enjoyed it and been very appreciative. He loves the guys and the guys enjoy loving on him,” said Sullenger.
Recently, the team invited Colton to their last home game of the 2015 season. Before the start of the game the boys honored Colton with his own jersey, making him an honorary player and took a team photo with him.
“I really do hope that we had an impact on Colton’s life someway, somehow. His parents tell me he doesn't want to take off the jersey that we gave him,” said Rob Groeschell, a senior on the team. “All I know is that he has impacted my life more than words can express. He's so strong, so joyful, and has such a pure heart.”
Although the season has ended, the relationship between Colton and the baseball team will not.
“It is more than for the season, it will be for as long as Colton and the family would desire. I think as always perspective is gained as they see a situation so different from theirs, in regards to health and life,” said Sullenger.
Written by Joclyn Kirton, iBiola intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, media relations specialist, at 562.777.4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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