Danny Wood never had the chance to meet Trent Williams.
Like many in the area, Wood read of the 8-year-old Strasburg boy's courageous battle against brain cancer, a nearly two-year fight that ended with his death almost one year ago.
Wood read the newspaper stories, prayed like so many others for Trent's recovery, mourned from a distance following Trent's passing. He knows Trent loved panda bears and Star Wars, that his favorite color was blue and that he loved sports. In a way, Wood does feel as though he knew Trent, at least a little.
Wood, the volunteer coach for Front Royal's Post 53 baseball team, did slightly know Trent's parents, Eric and Jennifer Williams, from years before when they had lived in Front Royal. He also knew that, even nearly a year after losing Trent, the Williams are still dealing with the financial repercussions of staggering medical bills associated with their son's care.
"I remember reading all the stories and seeing the media outpouring," Wood said. "I thought to myself, 'These are great people. What can I do to help them?'"
That idea stayed with Wood, and tonight at Front Royal's Bing Crosby Stadium he and the rest of the American Legion team intend to do what they can to ease that burden just a bit more. Front Royal's home game against Remington Post 247 will be a benefit fundraiser for the family, with all gate receipts going to the Friends of Trent Fund.
Wood isn't expecting a packed house for tonight's 7 p.m. matchup -- Post 53 doesn't draw standing-room only crowds, by any stretch -- but he does hope that perhaps a few more faces will be looking out for the stadium seats at Bing Crosby Stadium to support his team and the Williams family.
"I know the dollars won't be great," Wood said. "We might get 20 or 25 more people than we normally would. I just hope the story reaches people who didn't have a chance to help out and want to now. It's just an opportunity to fill that bucket a little bit."
Wood said the Williams family -- mom and dad Eric and Jennifer, plus brothers Caden and Logan -- will be out that the ballpark tonight. Logan, Trent's twin, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch. The game against Remington is Front Royal's last home game of the regular season.
Those who do venture out to Bing Crosby -- a first-class baseball facility, by the way -- will be in for a real treat. Under Wood's tutelage, Post 53's baseball team has put together a 9-5 mark despite losing more than a couple games to rainouts this season. Post 53 is absolutely a community team, as well. The squad is comprised mostly of standout players like Tyler Post and Chaz Rutherford from Warren County and Skyline high schools, respectively, but also features former standouts from Strasburg (Tyler Hott) and Randolph-Macon Academy (Neil Dutton) and rising senior Patrick McGrath of Clarke County. They don't always win, but Wood has little trouble getting nine innings of hard work out of his squad every time they take the field.
So there it is -- a great evening at a wonderful ballpark to watch a super baseball team made up completely of some of this area's finest young ballplayers, plus the added knowledge that your admission will go to a truly worthy cause. That sounds like the perfect night to take in a ballgame at Bing Crosby Stadium.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>