The University of North Georgia (UNG) Department of Athletics will host "A Field of Dreams: Make-A-Wish Day" on Tuesday, April 7 to honor Royce "Cailen" Rundles, a fourth-grader at Mount Vernon Elementary School in Gainesville.
"The real winner in this entire initiative is the children that benefit from the Make-A-Wish foundation," said Lindsay Reeves, UNG's athletic director. "Seeing our entire campus community embrace such an impactful cause is shadowed by the smiles that are brought to the faces of the guests."
The event will precede the 6 p.m. UNG vs. West Florida baseball game at Bob Stein Stadium on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. The Make-A-Wish event will kick off at 3 p.m. when a police escort brings Rundles to Coleman Field House, followed by a press conference announcing his signing to head coach Tom Cantrell's team.
The highlight of the event will take place before the game when UNG and West Florida stage a scripted "halted game." Later, at 6 p.m., after a special performance of the National Anthem and a presentation by the UNG Boar's Head Brigade Color Guard, Rundles will also throw out the first pitch for the UNG vs. West Florida game.
Groups from the local community and UNG's campuses will be participating in a pregame tailgating event from 4-5:30 p.m. UNG's Athletic Department raised more than $21,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation during the 2013-14 year, marking the highest total ever from a single institution in the history of the NCAA Division II initiative. UNG has donated the highest amount of money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in three of the past four years.
Through a joint collaboration between the national Make-A-Wish office and the NCAA, five Division II schools nationally are part of a wish reveal each year. Representatives from the NCAA national office in Indianapolis and the Peach Belt Conference will also be on hand, as well as local and regional media outlets.
"Seeing Joseph Tippins as our guest last year was a moving night that the Nighthawk Nation will always remember and we look forward to making A Field of Dreams: Make-A-Wish Day just as rewarding," Reeves said.
The day's planned schedule includes:
- 3 p.m. Rundels receives UNG Police escort to Coleman Field House
- 3:15 p.m. Press conference announcing Rundels' signing to the UNG baseball team
- 3:30 p.m. Meet and greet with new teammates
- 4-5:30 p.m. Campus-wide tailgating event in lower soccer parking lot
- 5:30 p.m. Completion of halted game with UWF
- 5:45 p.m. On-field photo opportunity
- 5:55 p.m. Rundles throws out first pitch and special recognition ceremony
- 6 p.m. Special performance of National Anthem