Towns rally together for charity game

by Callie Sterling

Thousands gathered at Dickey-Stephens Park in Little Rock on May 6 for a storm relief fundraiser benefiting the cities of Mayflower and Vilonia.

Total attendance was 8,014, the third highest attended game this season at Dickey-Stephens. Approximately $129,000 was raised in less than three hours to help both cities, which were heavily damaged by a tornado on April 27. The amount represents donations at the gate, concession sales and corporate contributions.

Admission was free, but donations were accepted. All concession stand proceeds from the evening were also donated to the relief effort. In addition, “Arkan-strong” T-shirts were sold during the game, and the proceeds contributed to the fund.

Gov. Mike Beebe along with Vilonia Mayor James Firestone and Mayflower Mayor Randy Holland threw out the first pitch. Vilonia and Mayflower baseball team seniors along with their parents were also recognized in honor of senior night.

“The support is pretty overwhelming,” Beebe said. “It makes you really proud and warms your heart. This is what the spirit of Arkansas is all about. The stadium is about to be full of Vilonia and Mayflower residents but also people from other communities. It highlights to everyone that people care.”

Vilonia High School had a 3-0 victory over Mayflower during the seven-inning game, but it was apparent that it was not the outcome but the sense of community that was important.

Gov. Mike Beebe (center) with Mayflower Mayor Randy Holland (from left), Ashley Raney, Bailee Jo Thorn and Vilonia Mayor James Firestone.

“Both mascots are the Eagles, and the American symbol is the bald eagle,” Beebe said before the game. “We know the Eagles are going to win, we just don’t know which Eagles.”

The Little Rock Zoo also brought a live Eagle to show support at the game, which drew Arkansans from all across the state.

“It is one of the best things in the world to see,” said Mayflower citizen Terry Hoskins. “Some people have lost everything, and seeing everyone come together as a community is amazing. It is a good distraction for both communities.”

“I feel that this game is such a great thing,” said Mayflower High School senior Ha’lle Jagers. “What the two communities are doing by coming together is awesome! I am so blessed to be a part of such a great state.”