Respect the ribbon


Kate Bruggenschmidt died in an ATV accident in the hour or so she had between her doubleheader softball games.

Her mother, Ashlee Bruggenschmidt, said the support of friends and family afterward came almost immediately. A fews days later, the idea of “Play for Kate” developed.

The second game of the softball team’s awareness weekend will honor the memory of the 11-year-old girl.

The game is about bonding together and showing strength and support within the community her parents continue to be a part of.

Some people may question what this game will accomplish.

Does it help if the team wears green in her honor?

Does it help if her sister throws the first pitch?

I imagine it helps a lot.

Softball teams came by the bus full to pay their respects at Bruggenschmidt’s showing.

“I think that says a lot about the softball community and how important those relationships are,” Ashlee said. “We saw firsthand it wasn’t about wins or losses, it was about those relationships.”

USI Softball Coach Sue Kunkle also attended the showing and presented the family a signed USI jersey.

“We had talked (at the showing) that (the USI team) wanted to do something,” Ashlee said. “Not only for the softball community or The Bomb Squad (Bruggenschmidt’s travel softball team), but for our family.”

Ashlee said giveback or awareness games help people choose positivity over negativity.

She said in the face of tragedy, that choice presents itself and the positive often comes from giving people hope.

“You have to make your heart bigger than the hole,” she said.

She said all the “Play for Kate” games, the shirts and the ribbons help the family.

“That’s what helps us heal,” Ashlee said. “That’s what helps us know her legacy is still alive.”

When teams come together for a specific cause, it shows the true power a sport can have.

Some people say sports can’t make any real difference in the world. I strongly disagree.

If the platform of athletics is used correctly, it can make a great deal of difference.

Sometimes making a difference simply means shining light on an issue. The first step to working on or fixing a problem is understanding it.

Besides playing a game in honor of a fellow softball player, the team will use the weekend to unite for multiple causes.

Each team member will wear a ribbon of their chosen color to represent a cause during the April 2 game.

If someone looks up the meaning of a colored ribbon, that’s one more person who knows a little something about a disease affecting people around them.

Helping isn’t always something that can be measured monetarily, and it doesn’t always mean individuals are fixing a problem themselves.

Sometimes a simple ribbon, or game dedication, can make a difference.