Towson’s Honorary Captains Club and Casey Cares created a special day for a select group of children

By Courtney Ott, The Towerlight

Casey Cares families gathered at Johnny Unitas Stadium and the soccer field on Towson’s campus to watch Towson’s men’s and women’s lacrosse games on March 30.

Members of Towson’s Honorary Captains Club put together a day that a handful of children got to enjoy that was different from their normal daily routine.

Casey Cares is a non-profit organization based out of Columbia, Md., that works with families with critically ill children to offer palliative support through family-centric events. Half of Casey Cares population is children who are diagnosed with different types of cancer, while the other half is children diagnosed with illnesses like sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis or children with complex health issues.

The organization started in 2000 and has reached eight states in the Mid-Atlantic to help support over 1,600 critically ill children and their families, according to their website. To uplift families and their children during hard times, Casey Cares sets up events like trips to concerts, museums, sporting events or live shows.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to take the focus off all of those things for an afternoon or an evening where they get to be a kid and just be a family,” said Erin Ritter, deputy director at Casey Cares. “We do all different sorts of activities just to give the family some quality time and some time to make positive memories during a time that is really, really difficult.”

March 30 was a day for families and children who are part of Casey Cares to come to Towson’s campus and make positive memories at the men’s and women’s lacrosse games. The Honorary Captains Club, created by Towson women’s lacrosse defender Blair Goodrich, helped put the event together.

The Honorary Captains Club was created by Goodrich during the summer of 2023 to help give student-athletes at Towson volunteering opportunities and to get more involved in the community. The club solely works with Casey Cares. The club’s mission is for student-athletes at Towson to directly impact critically ill children in their community through “honorary captain experiences” and fundraisers on campus.

“Being a student-athlete, it’s hard to find the extra time to volunteer, so it’s meant a lot to me to be a part of this,” said Goodrich. “When I was given the opportunity to do this at Towson, I thought it was a great opportunity…It was super exciting, I’ve really enjoyed it and Casey Cares has great people, and they are awesome to work with.”

Casey Cares families toured the football locker room, watched the lacrosse games, played cornhole, got autographs, were featured on the jumbo tron at halftime of the men’s lacrosse game and the children ran around on the track with other athletes that are a part of the club during the games.

“For the kids and their siblings and their parents, it really is a chance to kind of break out of their normal routine of doctor’s visits and hospital stays and medication and take an afternoon away from all of that,” said Ritter. “I think going to a Towson game and being a part of that community is very cool.”

Angie and Paul McGrady are the parents of eight-year-old Hercules. When he was six, he had an injury that resulted in his esophagus being replaced. There were complications with the procedure, and he now has to eat out of a feeding tube.

“They just welcomed these kids like my son with open arms…as a mom, it means a lot to me that there’s people out there thinking about your kids,” said McGrady. “It’s nice to see that there’s other people out in this world that appreciate kids that are struggling and they consider them and just think about them. It touches your heart that they’re not forgotten.”

Being able to come to Towson and watch lacrosse games isn’t something that the McGradys get to do outside of their normal routine, but it was something that their family was appreciative of.

“Towson players and the Towson staff went above and beyond and we are so appreciative and we thank them so much for everything that they did,” said McGrady. “To have us at their field, their home and invite our family with open arms…it means a lot to us.”

Goodrich explained what the Honorary Captains Club and Casey Cares partnership means for the children.

“All of these families have critically ill children, so being able to give them an experience that can create some kind of memory for them and able to get out of the house and enjoy family time together. We’re able to show them being a part of a team because most of them aren’t able to depending on their illness,” said Goodrich. “We wanted to bring them to a college campus where it can be a little more intimate and personal and have them spend time with the coaches and players and get on the field and stuff like that.”

Goodrich said that despite graduating this year, she hopes that the Honorary Captains Club continues to hold events like this with Casey Cares.

“It just shows that we can take a lot of things for granted sometimes, and this club kind of helps recognize that there are a lot of little kids that are going through stuff and growing up with these illnesses and have to take every day as it goes,” said Goodrich. “Just making this club, sharing this experience with other people and bringing them and creating these memories for these families is just amazing. I think the Honorary Captains Club is something that is really important, and hopefully, we can spread it to other campuses as well.”

Every spring, the Honorary Captains Club reelects its board members with positions open to all student-athletes at Towson to continue their partnership with Casey Cares.

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