HUTTO, Ga. — Challenges are something we face on a daily basis, but our strength is shown when we work to overcome obstacles. Eleven-year-old Toby Jordan “T.J.” Andrews lost his left hand in an accident. Andrews, an avid baseball player and fan, is now playing for the Bainbridge Bearcats travel ball team in his hometown in Georgia and shows children and adults that obstacles are just that – something you work around. Andrews works hard and it shows according to head coach, Stacy Strickland.
Immediately following the accident, Andrews was rushed to Tampa General Hospital in Fla. One of Andrews’ visiting friends shared Andrews’ story with the folks in his hometown of St. Amant, La., which is where the Rays’ shortsop Reid Brignac is from. When Brignac heard the story, he and third baseman Evan Longoria visited Andrews in the hospital on consecutive days. According to Andrews’ mother, Toka, “After one of the regular season games that we attended as their guest, they were preparing to get on a bus, go to the airport and fly to Canada for series with the Toronto Blue Jays. The bus had to wait for Reid, who was talking to and encouraging T.J. after the game.”
Jeremy Coram, a former player from Andrews’ local high school and a Valdosta State University Blazers pitcher, devised a string to place on Andrews’ glove to help him pitch. This is similar to an idea that was used in the popular movie Soul Surfer – the story of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack. Hamilton tied a string to her surfboard to help keep it steady. Similarly, Andrews uses a string that is placed in his glove to help keep it steady while he transfers his right hand to it after throwing the pitch. When he is batting he uses a prosthetic glove on his left hand.
Andrews and his teammates show true sportsmanship when working together and supporting one another. The obstacles that come our way give us a chance to grow and adapt. It is a true testament to a strong person who is willing to do what it takes to continue to the live the life they want. Andrews has adapted his game, but still works hard to be the true athlete he is.
We tip our hat and award Gold Stars to Andrews for his continued perseverance, to the Rays’ Brignac and Longoria for their support of Andrews during this time, and to Jeremy Coram for devising a system to allow Andrews to pitch!
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