It was a beautiful May afternoon. The drive down Ridge Road was nice. Having the family in the car was even better.
We pulled up to The Chop Shop in Lansing. No, I wasn't getting a haircut. Such a need for me ended about 20 years ago.
These old eyes moistened up when I looked into the establishment.
There were softball players from Portage to Crown Point, and from Lansing to Chesterton. They all had, or were getting, their hair dyed purple.
That's what kind of person Katie Crandol, an Andrean junior who is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, is.
"I didn't know what to think when I walked in there," Crandol said. "I didn't know half of the people, but we were very thankful because the money was going to help my family."
"I didn't know my kid had so many friends," said Ken Crandol, Katie's father. "It was a blessing."
The miracles don't end there, either.
Andrean assistant softball coach Fred Steinbach realized recently that he was a gift from heaven. Crandol has O-negative blood, a trait she shares with only seven percent of the population. Steinbach is one of those people.
Since June 27, he's traveled to the University of Chicago eight times to donate blood platelets to help Crandol with her fight.
"I have a moral obligation to do this," Steinbach said. "How could I say no to a great young lady like Katie? This helps her fight this disease and gives her strength."
About 10 days ago, the defending Class 3A state runner-up 59ers had their softball banquet. Crandol, who played sparingly after undergoing surgery, got two honors.
She was given the 59er Award, the top honor, which goes to the player who showed the most hustle, pride and leadership. She also received the Big Stick Award for her .500 batting average.
Last Sunday, Crandol got to play in the championship game of the Taylor Cavinder Memorial Tournament in Portage. It was the first time all summer she had played for her Indiana Rebels 16U team.
Crandol played two innings at first base and walked in her one at-bat. Her Rebels won the championship 9-1.
"It felt so good to be out there with my teammates," Katie said. "I felt relieved."
As any family facing an illness like this knows, the cost is enormous. The Crandols still need help from those who have a heart to give. The nine transfusions are not cheap, nor are chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
Helen Steinbach, Fred's wife, is selling T-shirts to raise funds for the Crandols. Designed by Times Player of the Year Nikki Steinbach, the shirts say, "Faith, love and hope for Katie." There is a heart on the cloth.
A T-shirt can be ordered for $10, and the money will help Katie Crandol with her fight. You can contact Helen Steinbach at email@example.com to place your order.
"Katie will never quit," Ken said. "Just playing in that game gave her a big lift."
Now, if you can, do the same. I've already got my order in. And you never know when this goatee ends up being purple.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.