Rebs Baseball Makes Birthday Dreams Come True
Courtney Dearing (right) shares a smile with Ole Miss freshman Cooper Johnson (left) during her surprise birthday party at Swayze Field.
Oct. 18, 2016

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By Dylan Edwards,

OXFORD, Miss. – College baseball teams are known for what they do in the spring and into the summer. However, the things they do during the offseason can be even more special to some.

On Saturday (Oct. 15), Ole Miss Baseball held a surprise 13th birthday party at Swayze Field for their special visitor Courtney Dearing. Courtney, who has suffered from Spina Bifida since birth, receives treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport, Louisiana. Ole Miss, in conjunction with Shriners, gave Courtney a day to remember.

“I think our student athletes get more from moments like this than we actually give,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “To watch Shriners Hospital and see how much they care, for us to just a small part of it, our guys will remember this moment. I hope Courtney remembers it, but I know our guys will remember this moment for a long time.

Like any birthday party, it wouldn’t be complete without a birthday cake. Afterwards, the Rebels presented Courtney with a pinstripe jersey that she wore as she watched the scrimmage that followed.

“I never knew,” Courtney said. “ It was just like, ‘Wow.’ Seeing all the team and everybody standing there screaming ‘Happy Birthday’ was overwhelming in a very good way.”

During the scrimmage, Courtney was more than just a spectator. She helped out the Diamond Girls after one plate appearance by retrieving the bat and bringing it back to the dugout.

“I knew they were going to do a little something for her, but they went out of their way,” Courtney’s dad, Barry, said. “The baseball team couldn’t have made a better birthday present. To go up and high-five her and let her pick the bat up and bring it back (to the dugout), that really made her day.”

While it was Courtney’s special day, her being there also made the day mean more to Ole Miss’ players. Seeing someone as strong as Courtney made the Rebels put a little more pep in their step during the day.

“Being able to bring her in and being able to put that smile on her face, it makes everyone happy,” Ole Miss pitcher David Parkinson said. “It makes us feel better and attack the day and be even better people.”

Ole Miss will compete in the prestigious Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic in Houston, March 3-5, 2017. The tournament and days like Saturday are meant to provide meaningful experiences for the patients as well as introduce players to the mission of the international health care system.

“It was a wonderful day for her to have the chance to hang out with the team and meet the players and coaches,” said Dustin Johnson, who oversees sports marketing for Shriners. “It shows them that this event transcends baseball.”






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