Otsego softball coach Jake Knash and his family are pictured during last year’s Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament. (Photo provided)

Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament slated for April 14

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

If you stop by Memorial Park in Otsego on Saturday, April 14, you’ll likely be seeing red.
That’s the day of the Fourth Annual Rylee Lou Charity Softball game, which raises money and awareness for children living with Type 1 diabetes. As part of the event, members of the eight participating teams wear red T-shirts to support the cause.
The event is the brainchild of Otsego softball coach Jake Knash and his wife Sarah, who started the Rylee Lou Charity after their daughter Rylee was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five years ago at age two.
“Rylee was diagnosed with this disease when she was two years old and she’ll be seven this spring,” Knash said. “This disease is a day-to-day struggle trying to keep her blood sugars in a normal range. My wife and I have to work extremely hard to monitor this as Rylee is too young to manage it herself. She is getting much better at understanding this disease and she is starting to take initiative and wants to manage some of this herself.
“My wife, Sarah, had the idea to start this charity four years ago when Rylee was diagnosed. We both knew that we had to embrace the disease and make the best of a bad situation. We all know that life throws tough situations at us and we have to figure out how to handle it and keep a positive attitude.”
The first three years of the tournament raised more than $20,000, with that money used to send more than 20 children with Type 1 diabetes to a special summer camp called Camp Midicha. The camp is specifically for children living with Type 1 diabetes.
The cost per camper is $750.
“Rylee Lou Charity promotes Type 1 diabetes awareness and strives to improve the quality of life for children who have Type 1 diabetes,” Knash said.
While the softball tournament is the culmination of the yearly fund-raising drive, the work began months ago.
“We started raising money at the beginning of the year in January,” Knash said. “We use the softball tournament as our big event to bring awareness and have our final push for donations.”
The charity accepts donations from community members and local businesses. It will also be selling t-shirts and having a “dine to donate” at Pizza Hut on Wednesday, April 11.
For more information or to find ways to become involved, visit the Rylee Lou Charity website at www.ryleeloucharity.com or find it on Facebook.
“We are hoping to get a lot of support from our local community this year,” Knash said.
 

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