Otsego softball coach Jake Knash holds daughter Rylee during last year’s Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament, which raises money for children living with Type 1 diabetes. (Photo provided)

Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tourney returns for third year

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

You can make a difference.
That’s one of the messages Otsego Middle School teacher Jake Knash tries to impress upon the sixth graders in his Teen Leadership class.
“A lot of people will tell them they’re too young to make a difference, but they’re not,” Knash said. “Anybody can make a difference. I tell them to find something they’re not okay with and then figure out a way to make it better.”
Knash is leading by example in that regard.
Three years ago, Knash’s youngest daughter Rylee was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. After seeing what Rylee had to go through as a result of her condition, Knash and his wife Sarah decided they had to do something to help other children like their daughter.
Thus was born the Rylee Lou Charity.
Used to raise money and awareness for Type I diabetes, the Rylee Lou Charity teams with the Otsego varsity softball team—of which Knash is head coach—for the Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament.
The third annual tournament is scheduled for Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Park in Otsego.
“(Rylee’s diagnosis) was very challenging for our family,” Knash said. “But instead of being upset with this diagnosis, we had to embrace it and make the best of a bad situation. We thought the best way to do that was to give back to the kids in the community that are living with this disease.
“We also wanted to teach our children that life is not perfect and sometimes you have to make the best of your circumstances.”
Money from the tournament is used to send children living with Type I diabetes to Camp Midicha in Fenton.
“It’s a week-long summer camp that’s run by doctors and nurses who are trained to care for the campers with Type 1 diabetes,” Knash said.
The tournament raised $7,000 in 2015 and $9,000 last season.
Money is raised from business donations, personal donations and T-shirt sales. Order forms for the T-shirts can be found at the Otsego Public Schools website (www.otsegops.org) and are due by Friday, March 24.
Players from all eight participating teams will wear the red T-shirts in honor of children living with Type 1 diabetes.
“I believe the key to life is giving back and putting others before yourself,” Knash said. “This is a great way for our community to serve others and show that we care. Otsego Schools has a handful of students who live with this disease. I think it is important that they know we care and are willing to support them.”
If you would like to get involved with the Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament, are a business that would like to make a donation or to simply find more information about the event, contact Knash at jknash@otsegops.org.

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