This is the first edition of our Summer Intern Blog Series. Be sure to come back each week as interns from around the country share their summer experiences with us!
By: Lauren Benda, @LaurenBenda
As the community relations intern for the West Michigan Whitecaps, I work under our community relations manager. A normal day for myself does not exist and that is the best part of community relations.
Half of the time, I am escorting our mascot, Crash, around to different appearances or I am planning tours of Fifth Third Ballpark. The other times, though, are some of the most exciting. Through this internship, I have been a part of the most life changing experiences, but the one that I will remember forever is watching the Whitecaps’ players surprise Will Colthrop.
Will Colthrop was diagnosed with cancer in July of 2015 and a tumor the size of a pomegranate was removed from his abdomen. After nine months of chemotherapy, he was declared cancer free and could start getting back into the swing of his normal life.
One of the biggest parts of Will’s “normal” life is baseball and he is a big Detroit Tigers fan. When someone in the Whitecaps organization got ahold of an interview Will was in, they immediately passed it along and knew something had to be done with it.
My supervisor knew that a signed baseball or a signed jersey was not enough to have a proper celebration for Will and she came across the video of the Chicago Blackhawks surprising a young fan in their One Goal series. That’s when all of the planning started and it was decided that we would surprise Will at one of his little league games.
May 14 was the date set for the big surprise and we had nine Whitecaps’ players with us, along with snacks for Will’s team, a personalized jersey and several of the players brought little gifts for Will, which included bats, hats and a glove. When we arrived to the school where the game was being played, we slowly approached and, eventually, we created a scene that brought the biggest smile to the face of the most deserving boy.
Each player hustled into the dugout for a different reason that day and they all greeted Will with a different item. Then they took the field with Will and his team and played a full game of baseball, offering encouraging words and helping them along the way.
The inspiration that comes from someone so little is amazing and you never realize that one person will ever need to be that strong in their lifetime until you meet them. Being a community relations intern this summer is going to be an experience that I never would have expected for my life, but I am so thankful for the opportunity.
Throughout the rest of the summer my experiences will be documented here and hopefully they are enjoyed and lead people to look into unique opportunities in the world of professional sports.
Will’s surprise video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUssRy1BVNc