INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Support through an illness can sometimes come from an unexpected source.
For a five-year-old named Emma, her support team literally includes a team of high school softball players.
The Traders Point Christian School softball team members have played with an extra purpose this season.
They’ve been carrying an honorary teammate through a dangerous illness.
“We pray for her before a game and we’re playing for Emma,” team member Kaylah Bolender-Heaton said.
A special prayer for Emma has become part of the pre-game ritual, along with a cheer for the team and for their honorary teammate.
“On most of our jerseys we have a softball that has a number 13, which is what number we gave Emma,” Bolender-Heaton said.
“Let’s see what we can do just to cheer her up and make her feel part of the team,” coach Mark Kowal said.
At the beginning of the season, Emma was in need of a new liver, battling a disease that caused her body to reject her own.
“She had to get a new liver or she wouldn’t have lived,” Bolender-Heaton said.
“I immediately went back to what it’s like to be a dad and if it’s one of my kids and how that must feel,” Kowal said.
So the team decided to dedicate their season to the little girl.
They all met in person to give her a number 13 jersey.
“And we also signed a ball, a brand new softball that the team signed, and we gave it to her and her mom said she went the entire day never letting go of the ball,” Kowal said.
A couple weeks ago the team was thrilled to hear that Emma was accepted to receive a new liver.
They’re happy they could help support her and her family during such a tough time.
“I’m proud of my team for accepting it so well and we love her so much,” Bolender-Heaton said.
“As soon as she’s ready to have 10 girls go out there and see her, we want to plan on getting out there to see her over the summer,” Kowal said.
Emma had her transplant a couple weeks ago and is already transitioning into long term care from the hospital.
The team is very encouraged by her progress and they hope to make a reunion happen whenever Emma is healthy enough.