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Young boys complete father's lifelong dream to visit every MLB stadium after his death

The dad, unfortunately, passed away when they were just short of two ballparks from reaching their goal of all 30 parks.

Young boys complete father's lifelong dream to visit every MLB stadium after his death
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)

Grieving the loss of a loved one is one of the most challenging times in anyone's life. We often find several ways to stay connected to the one we lose. So, when these young boys lost their dad suddenly, they decided to pay their tribute to him in the best way possible. A family made sure to fulfill the promise that their father made before his death. In 2015, despite being on deployment, US Air Force Colonel Erick Gilbert set a goal for his wife and kids to visit every Major League Baseball before Dane, their older son turned 18. Now, they as a family have been able to achieve this dream with visits this month to the Tampa Bay Rays' Tropicana Field and the Miami Marlins' LoanDepot Park, per PEOPLE.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

Gilbert, unfortunately, passed away when they were just short of two ballparks from reaching their goal of all 30 parks. The kids, Chase and Dane shared a bond with their father on baseball. "He was a great coach and a great leader both," Chase told NBC News. Gilbert's wife, Kasia shared that her husband loved the game and brought up their kids that way. The family wanted to fulfill the dream as a "Father's Day gift" to him.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) helped the family with the trips and also planned some special surprises for them. On June 7, the Rays game allowed Dane and his family to come to the field for batting practice. He was able to even get some of his baseball card collection signed. "That's one of my top hobbies, and I got it from my dad too," Dane said. "Getting to see all those guys up close and in person was awesome."


Another memory that the family will remember from this trip is when Dane and Chase threw the first pitch for the game in Miami on June 9. Chase said, "It was a surprise for all of us. It was awesome." He recalled, "They brought us to the dugout. We got to check it out, which was super cool. They brought out not only a jersey that was signed by the whole team for us, but they also then told us that we would be throwing out the honorary first pitch."


It was a dream come true for Dane who one day wanted to play on a big league field. Chase added that their father would have been "absolutely stoked." He said, "The fact that we threw out the first pitch, he would've thought that's the coolest thing ever." In the past, the ballpark-to-ballpark trips allowed the family to visit 28 fields over four seasons and in one of them, they did a 30-day road trip where they visited 17 ballparks at once.


These trips were important to the family because they enjoyed spending time together. Dane said, "And then including baseball in there is just a lot of fun." He will soon be playing baseball for Missouri Valley College. They all also took their duties during these trips seriously. Kasia shared, "Chase's job during our Major League Baseball park tours was to figure out what the most outrageous or interesting food was that we needed to try."


Now that they have completed the goal of visiting 30 ballparks, Kasia said that she could imagine her husband's "great smile" while they were having these experiences. She said, "All of our faces hurt from smiling, and we could just picture the big old grin on Eric's face the whole time everything was happening." Though they have fulfilled Gilbert's dream, they still want to live by his principles. His older son said, "I was captain this year for a baseball team. I think just being able to lead people the same way that he did - I just want to keep doing that."

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