Members of the Crestview softball program are joined by two children as they huddle around a statue of Ronald McDonald outside the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. The Lady Knights spent the weekend delivering gifts and snacks for the families staying at RMH. (Photo submitted)
Members of the Crestview softball program are joined by two children as they huddle around a statue of Ronald McDonald outside the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. The Lady Knights spent the weekend delivering gifts and snacks for the families staying at RMH. (Photo submitted)
By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
sports@timesbulletin.com
CONVOY — It was meant to be a team-building experience, and in many ways it was exactly that. What the Crestview softball team decided to do, however, affected so many more people than just the members of the varsity and JV squads.
Junior catcher Mackenzie Riggenbach had an idea. Though the Lady Knights hadn’t chosen to do anything like this before, the team had gotten off to a relatively slow start to the season, and she wanted to do something to boost morale. The idea to donate their time, money and energy to the families of the patients of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and those staying at the Ronald McDonald House across the street, came from their head coach, Carl Etzler.
“He knew that he wanted to do something that could gets us all involved, and that was a place that was big enough that we could help out wherever we were needed,” Riggenbach said.
“We decided to decorate boxes that we could fill with anything from charms to crayons to toys to blankets. That’s what we’ve been working on for the past month,” Riggenbach explained. “We didn’t get to meet any of the children (that were patients), but we were able to deliver the gifts and we know we’re doing a great thing, and had a good weekend to be together as a team.”


The girls split up into groups and went shopping, looking to fill their carts with gifts fit for the kids of Children’s Hospital.
“They formulated a list with what they wanted to put in these boxes, from cameras to nail polish to movies,” Etzler said. “We just kind of took over Wal-Mart. We had little teams of four that had a cart and they had a list, and we bought for young ladies, 8-12 years old, and little boys 8-12 and then girls 13-18.”
Not only that, but the team invaded the kitchen of a local church and made up a whole batch of goodies to deliver to the families at the Ronald McDonald House.
“We made snacks like puppy chow, Chex mix, Rice Krispy treats. I get to see them as ballplayers out here, but we’re in that kitchen and there is flour flying, there are apples being chopped, there are cookies being baked. As a coach, to step back and watch, this was the varsity and the JV together,” coach Etzler noted. “They meshed so well together, and everybody seemed to just really have a good time and enjoy it. And the ladies worked so, so hard at this. It was just a tremendous experience and opportunity.”
Crestview’s team made the trip to Columbus this past weekend, and, though they didn’t meet any of the patients at the hospital, the Lady Knights did get a tour of the Ronald McDonald House and got to spend a little time with some of the families staying there while one of their children gets treatment.
“We got a tour of the house, and then we helped them with their storage, by cleaning up their toy storage room and their downstairs kitchen area,” Nikki McClure added. “We saw the families just walking throughout (the house, but we did meet a lady who was there with her son and her daughter, her son was getting surgery the next month. We got pictures with them, and she (the mother) seemed really appreciative.”
Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a 451-bed pediatric hospital that performs over 23,000 surgeries annually. While families come from across the state and across the region to have their children cared for at Nationwide, many of them have no place to stay. That’s where the Ronald McDonald House comes in.
For three decades, the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus has provided a place to stay, free of charge, to the families of the seriously ill children being cared for across the street. It is a place dependent upon the donations of those in the community, including the type given by the Lady Knights.
“It was a great feeling, knowing that what we did could put a smile on a kid’s face for the day and help them feel better,” added senior Courtney Grote. “Not only the kids, but the families, too.”
Whether or not they choose to visit Columbus again, Riggenbach says this type of project is something she’d like to see happen again next season.
“I think we should try to, definitely, whether it’s the same place or a different place, I think we should definitely do something.”
“Everybody gets wrapped up in wins and losses,” Etzler added. “I think sometimes we have to stop and remember that we’re pretty blessed just to be able to play this game. I hope that was kind of a life lesson for the girls. They just reacted tremendously.”