Oct. 24, 2013
• Caleb's Pitch at AFCH
MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin wrestling team is known more for their moves on the mat than for their artistic eye, but that didn’t stop the Badgers from trying to prove themselves with a canvas and some paint.
The wrestlers got the chance show their artistic side on Oct. 16 when they served as the first participating team in a new collaboration between UW Athletics and the American Family Children’s Hospital that brought Caleb’s Pitch to Madison.
Caleb’s Pitch is a nonprofit organization that serves to create memorable experiences for children battling serious illnesses. The program pairs collegiate student-athletes with patients from children’s hospitals in an effort to combine two things many kids love -- sports and arts and crafts.
The student-athletes help the children create artwork on canvas with paint-filled syringes. The opportunity not only provides the patients a chance to try their hand at art but also gives them a chance to “fire” at the student-athletes as they hold the canvas while the children squirt the paint.
|“These kids are normal kids living their lives under tough circumstances, and it was great to see them smile,” Medbery said.
The wrestlers had a blast holding the canvases up for the kids, and even became walking art when the kids missed their target. Connor Medbery, a redshirt sophomore, was one of the wrestlers who had the opportunity to participate in Caleb’s Pitch.
“It was an experience to say the least,” Medbery said of being sprayed with paint. “But it was funny, and it was good to see some kids who are in a tough situation with a smile on their faces for a little bit.”
Julie Auenson, child life services manager at American Family Children’s Hospital, was thrilled to have the wrestlers visit and thinks the program is a great way to take the children’s minds off of their illnesses.
“I think it is a really nice way to bring these athletes here to do a fun activity with the kids,” Auenson said. “It is fun to combine the athletes with an activity so the kids can have fun and play.
“It is a way for them to forget about why they are here for a while.”
Medbery and his teammates enjoyed every minute of the time they spent at the children’s hospital. It inspired them and gave them motivation to give it their all every time on the mat.
“There was one kid that used to be a wrestler,” Medbery said. “It was inspiring to see a kid who wasn’t necessarily any different than I was growing up, but is in a tough situation. These kids are normal kids living their lives under tough circumstances, and it was great to see them smile.”
Caleb’s Pitch was founded in remembrance of Caleb Jacobbe, who passed away at 8 years old after a valiant battle with cancer. The organization honors one of Jacobbe’s favorite activities, syringe art.
“A big part of what we are doing is trying to bring positive experiences to kids in the hospital today, regardless of what they are there for,” said Caleb’s Pitch founder Tim Jacobbe. "Caleb was a huge sports fan. I figured if we could combine the fun things he did in the hospital and his love of athletics, that would be perfect."
More info on Caleb’s Pitch can be found at CalebsPitch.org.