It’s rare that an opening pitch overshadows a game, but that was the case last week in Brooklet. Southeast Bulloch Middle School seventh grader Georgia Kate Anderson took to the mound to throw out the first pitch in the Southeast Bulloch varsity softball game with Burke County.
The game was actually rained out, but the opening pitch was moved up, and got in before the rain came down. Many of the people on hand were there for the pitch as much, or more than the actual game.
Georgia Kate was critically injured in an ATV accident July 7 in a field near her home in southern Bulloch County. After almost two months of recovery and rehabilitation, Anderson returned home Sept. 1.
Prior to her accident, Anderson had signed up for softball camp held by the Jacket coaches and they have tried to find a way to help her since her accident.
“She came over and signed up for our camp, and later that day is when she had her accident,” said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. “We have tried to think of a way to honor her and what she has gone through, and also give people a way to give back to her family financially to help them with the cost of paying for everything she has had to go through. Our Brooklet community is special and we knew they would turn out even with the weather looking bad.”
Georgia Kate’s mother Melanie is a Southeast Bulloch graduate, and was moved when SEB coaches approached her about throwing out the first pitch.
“It meant so much to Georgia Kate and our family to have the coaches come to us and ask if they could honor her and she has been so excited about this day,” Anderson said. “It’s hard to believe that a short time ago doctors told us she probably wouldn’t make it, and now she is out here throwing out the first pitch at a softball game. It’s just a miracle to see how far she has come.”
Despite all that Georgia Kate has been through she was able to deliver an impressive pitch Thursday.
“The whole way back from Atlanta I kept asking her if she needed to practice,” Anderson said. “She just kept telling me ‘I’m good, I know how to throw a ball.’ She has only thrown a few smaller balls during therapy, but even with one eye I don’t think she did too shabby out there.”
Georgia Kate received a loud standing ovation from the impressive group of fans and supporters who turned out Sept. 14.
“The Brooklet community has been amazing,” Anderson said. “The elementary school, the middle school and even the high school have reached out and tried to help us in many ways. They are like our family. It hasn’t just been them though, we have gotten support from throughout Bulloch County and surrounding counties and it all been overwhelming, in a good way. It makes us feel like we are loved.”
Following her accident Georgia Kate was transported to Savannah where she was put in a medically induced coma. She was not given much of a chance of recovering from her brain trauma, but slowly showed signs of improving, Melanie Anderson said.
About a month later she was able to talk, and was finally moved from the pediatric ICU unit in Savannah to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for intensive therapy. Georgia Kate progressed to opening her eyes and is now able to walk without assistance. She was able to return home for a short period of time and is currently back in Atlanta doing more therapy at CHOA and is expected to return home for good Sept. 28.
“We just thank God for this miracle,” Anderson said. “We have gone from touch and go and not knowing if she will make it to functioning like a normal pre-teen. It is something you can’t explain except for God and only God.”
Donations to help offset the medical cost for the Anderson family may be made through an account set up at Citizens Bank of the South for Georgia Kate. Donations may be made through a deposit or you may mail checks to PO Box 120, Statesboro, GA 30458. And a Venmo account is set up @Melanie-Anderson-62.
Also, a benefit concert is taking place Oct. 7 at Twin Oaks Vinery from 1-11:30 p.m.