CHASE YOUR DREAMS #002 - Kevin Negaard and Wanna Have A Catch?
Posted on September 29 2022
CHASE YOUR DREAMS #002 - KEVIN NEGAARD and WANNA HAVE A CATCH?
On January 18, 2022, Kevin Negaard played catch with his dad, Stanley. It was Kevin’s 60th birthday, and it was his first game of catch in his attempt to play catch every day for an entire year, a project he called, “Wanna Have a Catch?”
Kevin and Stanley played catch on the Miracle League field of Sioux City, Iowa, because Kevin dreamed of raising $100,000 in support of the Miracle League.
Day #1 of the Wanna Have A Catch? Project - Kevin and his Dad, Stanley.
Miracle Leagues provide “recreational facilities designed for individuals with disabilities to enable integrated play, promote acceptance and safety, provide positive experiences, and inspire laughter and joy for participants and their families.” Miracle Leagues make it possible for everyone to get on the field and swing for the fences.
Kevin’s passion for Miracle League started at home. When Kevin was in elementary school, his parents started working with people who were differently abled.
“We found our niche for the people we really had a heart for,” Kevin said. “And then I met Heather and I was forever changed. My parents adopted Heather and she became the center point of our family. I love Miracle League because it is a way to honor my parents and Heather. The Miracle League brings people together and I want our players and families to feel like they are the number one priority for, maybe, the first time in their life. And when our players and families are out there, it is the most joyous place on earth.”
After 200 consecutive days of playing catch, Kevin has experienced the profound connections and memories that are made when one makes play a priority.
“My son and I played so much catch over the years. It was one of the best ways we bonded,” Kevin said. Now, as he has played catch with his entire family – father and mother, children and spouses, and his wife – those relationships have been strengthened. Play brings people together.
Kevin grew up a fan of The Wizard, Ozzie Smith. “People say never meet your hero as they may be much less than what you thought, but Ozzie was even better than what I dreamed. He was a true gentleman who gave of his time, was very engaging, and interested in what I was doing and the Miracle League.” Playing catch can, in fact, make dreams come true.
During his catch-playing year, Kevin has made multiple trips to Tanzania. “They had never seen baseball before. I played catch at a leper colony, at a business that employs people with disabilities, in a Maasai village, and with a group of young men who, three weeks later, sent me a video from 14,000 feet up on Mt. Kilimanjaro playing baseball. For all of them, this was the first time they saw a baseball, bat, and glove.” Playing catch brings the world together.
New catch playing friends in Tanzania.
Kevin’s favorite memory, so far, is playing catch with Dustin and Kayden. “Nothing will top that. The love of a father has changed his son’s life, and so many other lives.” Dustin and Kayden’s incredible story will be an upcoming dream-chasing blog post, so stay tuned for that.
When Kevin isn’t playing catch, he’s working at Sunnybrook Church. When you’re on staff at a church, it is easy to get caught up in everything that takes place inside the walls of the building – balancing budgets, various ministry projects, and ongoing building maintenance. Playing catch has kept Kevin on the go, out in the world, where ministry happens with every throw. “There are no strangers in playing catch,” Kevin said, “just friends I have yet to meet.”
Making new friends is definitely a high calling for any person who works in a church. Kevin did address the challenges he’s faced to this point, “The support and opportunities are much more than I ever dreamed of, so navigating that and staying balanced with family, work, and Wanna Have a Catch? is a challenge at times. What a problem, right?”
Kevin’s Wanna Have a Catch? project will continue until his 61st birthday in January of 2023. He surpassed his $100,000 goal before he reached the halfway point of his catch-playing year. You can follow along with Kevin and his journey on social media through Facebook and Instagram here.
This post was written by Ethan D. Bryan, fellow dream chaser and author of the best-selling book “A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me About Life.” Ethan lives in Springfield, Missouri, with his wife, Jamie, and daughters, Kaylea and Sophie. He still dreams of playing baseball for his beloved Kansas City Royals. His writing can be found at ethanbryan.com or on Twitter at @Ethan_Bryan.
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