Aniyla Byrd, center, a member of the Cen Cal Dirt Dogs of Fresno in the Premiere Girls Fastpitch softball, is leading a drive to raise $3,400 to provide cancer patients with iPads.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
The Cen Cal Dirt Dogs are considered one of the top teams in the Premiere Girls Fastpitch (FSP) softball league, with a 30-0 record to prove it. But the girls aren’t just knocking it out of the park on the diamond.
Since November, the girls have been raising money for Community Cancer Institute in Clovis. The campaign was kicked off by outfielder Aniyla Byrd of Fresno, a Central Unified student. Byrd, 13, started her fundraising efforts as part of a Gifted and Talented Education (G.A.T.E.) project.
This is her third time working with Community Medical Centers, with the other two projects benefiting the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), including fundraising for Easter baskets.
“A lot of what she does is usually around a holiday,” said Stan Byrd, Aniyla’s father. “You know, that’s kind when things are the worst for people who are ill or in the hospital and whatnot.”
This year, however, Aniyla decided on helping those fighting cancer, a relatable cause as her great uncle, Johnny Wingfield, died from the disease. According to her, she wanted to purchase iPads for the patients, as they often face boredom as they have to sit for hours on end with nothing to do as they go through their chemotherapy treatments. Aniyla said she was inspired to do this project by her coach, Sara Pickering (or “Coach Pick”), a cancer survivor and personal role model.
“She’s a great coach–she taught me many things not just in softball, but in life,” Aniyla said. “She told me that it’s great to give back to the community, and it’s always good for your friends and family, and just to put a smile on peoples’ face when you can.”
“And I know for me personally, I’ve learned a lot of life lessons through softball, and from coaches that I grew up playing for and in college,” Pickering said. “And so from those lessons – as far as hard work, teamwork, leadership, mental toughness, staying positive, being positive being a good teammate – all those lessons that you learn apply to real life.”
Aniyla is raising the funds using fliers passed around her school and neighborhood. Now, her teammates are following suit in their respective schools across the San Joaquin Valley. As of last week, they’ve raised $990 with a final goal of $3,400.
To contribute, visit the GoFundMe page at https://bit.ly/2sv4GCT.