Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Pawtucket Red Sox Pawtucket Red Sox

'We're so grateful': WooSox Foundation surprises nonprofit softball team with check, equipment

February 20, 2024

SOUTHBRIDGE — Tyler Trudell’s team continues to grow. Nearly three years after the unexpected death of the 13-year-old Little Leaguer from Paxton, Tyler’s parents and the WooSox Foundation made a surprise visit Friday to Southbridge Community Center to donate money and new equipment to Central Mass Lightning — a nonprofit

SOUTHBRIDGE — Tyler Trudell’s team continues to grow.

Nearly three years after the unexpected death of the 13-year-old Little Leaguer from Paxton, Tyler’s parents and the WooSox Foundation made a surprise visit Friday to Southbridge Community Center to donate money and new equipment to Central Mass Lightning — a nonprofit organization created to make softball affordable for girls in the Worcester area.

The donation comes from "Tyler's Teammates," a program started in 2022 by Tyler's family and the WooSox Foundation to honor Tyler’s love for baseball and provide opportunity and equipment to children who may not have the funds to participate in organized diamond sports, such as baseball and softball.

With the donation of $6,222.65 and a new pitching machine and balls, Tyler’s team added 23 players on Friday.

“My heart is so full,” said Jennifer Simpson, one of the parents who founded the Central Mass Lightning program that hosts players from 13 towns. “It is an absolute honor and privilege to represent ‘Tyler’s Teammates.’ We’re so grateful.”

To mark the second anniversary of “Tyler’s Teammates,” Smiley the WooSox mascot and members of the WooSox Foundation trickled into Southbridge Community Center as the Central Mass Lightning U12 and U14 softball programs held practice.

After Smiley took a few swings in the batting cage against live pitching, members of the WooSox Foundation presented the first-year softball organization with a big white check and some new equipment.

“We really owe everything to (Tyler’s parents, Lynn and Steve) for having the vision to create this program,” said Emerson White, coordinator of WooSox community relations and the WooSox Foundation. “To trust the foundation with their mission for this program is so special to us and we’re looking forward to continue to support kids playing baseball, softball and any diamond sport all around Central Massachusetts.”

After a brief ceremony from the WooSox Foundation, Simpson presented Tyler’s mom with a bracelet her youngest daughter, Mackenzie, made earlier in the day.

The band had beads that formed the word “Lightning” and the number “2” on it with two blue hearts as well. Tyler wore the No. 2 for baseball.

“You have a little piece of us with you,” Simpson said as she handed over the bracelet to Lynn. “So thank you, guys.”

Fittingly, Tyler's mom and her friends have crafted and sold bracelets over the past few years — with proceeds going to "Tyler's Teammates." Couple the bracelet along with a check that had three 2s on it ($6,222.65), and Tyler’s presence was felt in Southbridge.

“We get those signs all the time from Tyler, I just know he’s with us,” his mother said. “He’s always sending deuce. Always. Twos and rainbows, and whatever signs he can send me. I know he’s still with us. We miss him very, very much.”

Before Tyler’s parents left Southbridge Friday, Lynn and Steve posed for pictures with Central Mass Lightning players and coaches and members of the WooSox Foundation.

There were smiles and laughs, hugs and tears. Afterward, there was cake.

It’s been an emotional journey for Tyler’s family over the past few years. Still, events like Friday help to honor his memory.

There’s always room for more people on Tyler’s team.

“We never expected this to turn into this, and every year it seems to be getting bigger and bigger and different things are happening, so life’s a roller coaster, and we’re just holding on for the ride,” Tyler’s father said. “We’re just kind of seeing where it’s going and every time we do these things we remember him more and more people (learn) his story. So it helps.”