Softball tournament helps epileptic girl stay strong

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One local Jacksonville softball team is stepping up to the plate for the little Gracie Tate. Gracie was diagnosed with epilepsy at age seven and since then, her life has changed for the worse. However, with the support of Jacksonville's Players 14U softball team, she is getting support for the people she calls her, 'second family.'

More than 40 softball teams gathered Saturday in Victoria Park, to support the young teenager.

Gracie's family says she is one of the most positive people they know. She struggles with seizures, one to ten per day, but she continues to smile her way through life.

"I do wish [the seizures] would just go away," said Gracie. "I hate them."

As a result of the seizures, Gracie is now home schooled. However, she finds happiness riding her horse- a gift from her grandparents. She also loves spending time with her sisters and her parents. Most of all, she loves to watch her sister, Kylie, play softball with the 14U softball team.

Gracie used to play softball, but her seizures prevent her from doing that, too. Gracie's father, David, is there to help

"You can't do anything but hold her and console her and hope they'll stop," said David. "You need to remain strong for your family."

The coaches of the Players Softball team, Taylor Edmund and Cora Milikin are stepping in to help. They hosted a fundraiser to help with Gracie's medical expenses.

Gracie is heading to Miami on Monday for surgery in her visual cortex. Her parents say the surgery will likely help with her seizures, however, it comes with a serious chance of going blind.

"I am just nervous and I hope she's okay," said Gracie's sister, Kylie.

Madison Itani, a friend of Gracie's and pitcher on the Players Team, has a soft spot in her heart for Gracie. The two are friends and both 13-years-old.

"She is just such an inspiration and knowing that she can't play anymore.. it just breaks my heart because she's so kind," said Itani.

The coaches agree.

"I just want her to know that everything will be okay and that we are here for her supporting her," said coach Milikin. "With that, she will have more confidence and she'll be stronger."

The coaches created 'TEAM GRACIE' t-shirts and bracelets to sell for donations. They also raffled off gift cards to help the Tate family during this difficult time.

Gracie had few words about the fundraiser, but it's clear, she is happy.

"It's so wonderful," said Gracie.

The 13-year-old also lives by a positive motto.

"Don't worry about a thing because everything will be alright."

If you would like to donate to TEAM GRACIE: CLICK HERE


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