Utah Valley University baseball coach Eric Madsen signed his youngest player ever on Friday, Oct. 11 — 8-year-old Kael Miles from Eagle Mountain, Utah. Miles, living bravely every day with the life-threatening disease of cystic fibrosis, signed with UVU baseball for the 2020 season.
“Kael first off we want to thank you, and we want to thank your family for letting us as a team be able to become apart of your lives. We’re grateful for that opportunity for what you’ve done and the strength that you’ll show our guys,” said Madsen. “We’re looking forward and excited to what they’re going to be able to learn from you.”
Miles arrived at UCCU Ballpark with his smile shining brightly Friday afternoon. Miles was accompanied by his older brother McCrae and younger sister Charlie, and his parents, Chris and Kirsten. The heartwarming Draft Day celebration event for Miles was all made possible by Team IMPACT, and was sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
What to expect from Kael and the Wolverines
Now that Miles is an official member of the UVU baseball program, he will participate in practices, games, team dinners, events and even workouts if he so chooses.
“I think first of all he gets to be a part of such a great athletic department, we’re so fortunate to be a part of this department. So, for him to be able to understand that is going to be great,” said Madsen. “The other thing is, he’s part of our team now. We’ll probably wear him out having him do more than he probably wants to, he’s going to do anything that he wants to.”
Miles is just one of 30,000 patients in the U.S. living courageously with cystic fibrosis. It’s a disease that is predominantly diagnosed in children by the very young age of two. By sponsoring these Draft Days for children with cystic fibrosis, Vertex Pharmaceuticals is able to help spread awareness for the disease — as well as lifelong, positive effects Team IMPACT has on the children.
Freshman catcher/first baseman Dalton Hill helped in playing a key role in making sure Miles and Team IMPACT were involved this season.
“I mean we really wanted to make it special for Kael. This is something that doesn’t happen too often, especially around college athletics, so we really wanted to make it special for him,” said Hill. “We’re really excited to have Kael here and involve him in everything that we have going.”
Miles is poised to have a breakout year for the Wolverines this season, and his teammates have no doubts about it. When asked by his teammates what position he’ll be playing he said, “all of them I guess.” With plenty of smiles and laughter, they all agreed with the decision.
Who are Team IMPACT and Vertex Pharmaceuticals?
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit that helps to connect children who are facing serious and chronic illnesses with their local college athletic programs. The child and the team then form lifelong bonds with life-changing outcomes. Through support from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, children who have cystic fibrosis, like Miles, are drafted onto a local college athletic team and become an official member after signing a national letter of intent.
Since 2011, Team IMPACT has been able to match over 1,800 children with more than 600 colleges and universities in 48 states, while reaching more than 55,000 student athletes. Through this process, the child gets to join the athletic team while the student athletes get to join the child’s support team — all the way from draft day to graduation.
During the journey with the athletic program, the child gains strength, camaraderie and support. All the while the student athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can’t learn in a classroom setting. Miles’ determination to persevere through adversity has already made him an inspiration to his now current Wolverine teammates.