Throwing strikes to make a difference

Posted Monday, Jul. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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All Ricky Arthur knew is that Noella received her puppy. He didn’t know anything more about the girl – her age, where she lived and what her family was like.

But what Arthur did know is that he gave someone the chance to smile. Noella was a girl who possibly suffered from a life-threatening illness. Through the Make A Wish Foundation, Arthur became a light.

At 14, Arthur, a pitcher with the select baseball team Haslet Cobras, realized he came into this world to give. But at his age, what could he really do?

Well, that would be doing what he does best. He threw strikes.

The right-handed pitcher came up with the idea in February to donate to a cause for every strike he threw in each game he pitched. Not strikeouts. Strikes.

Movie night at the Arthur house provided the inspiration. They watched “Little Red Wagon”, the story of then 8-year-old Zach Bonner using his beat-up four wheel wagon to collect donations for the children who were victims of Hurricane Charley in 2004 in Florida. Bonner eventually turned it into the Little Red Wagon Foundation, which helps homeless children.

If Zach could do it, why not Ricky?

“For me, I just noticed the homeless kids and thought I can do something like donating some money,” Arthur said. “My dad [Robert] and I looked at a lot of charities before we worked with Make a Wish. I wanted to do something for kids.”

For every strike he threw in a game, a dollar would go toward Make A Wish. So if he threw 27 strikes, the foundation would get a $27 check. And really it didn’t matter if he was pitching for the Cobras, his school team at Temple Christian or anybody else. He just wanted to help.

When this ambition made its debut earlier in the spring, there were butterflies. Maybe his teammates didn’t sense it. But Arthur certainly did. He placed the onus on himself to deliver.

The Arthur family wrote a $17 check. Make A Wish does an outstanding of job of bringing joy to children fighting terrible diseases.

While he may never have known if the check was going somewhere, the confirmation about the puppy proved the smallest of things bring the greatest of joy.

It’s adding up. So far, Arthur has thrown 565 strikes ($565 in donations). That amount will continue to rise once fall baseball resumes. Arthur is in a lull period because there is no baseball right now.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Ricky said. “When I got the letter back that my money helped [buy a puppy for Noella] it was quite emotional. I was really happy to hear that the kids to get their wishes to come true.”

People can sometimes be cynics when it comes to this sort of thing. They talk about doing something to help but then it doesn’t go any further than that.

But we can learn a lot from people like Ricky. His personal crusade is modest but its purpose has a lasting impact. Who can say who else he has helped. Perhaps some of that money has helped a child meet a star athlete or take a trip. Perhaps Arthur’s story will inspire someone else – child or adult – to something similar.

It only takes one person to bring a smile because of the great gift of selflessness. Ricky Arthur did that for Noella.

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