10,000 swings in the chill of winter for a kid who needs it

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Grayson Sparr has never met Texan Luke Siegel, but they share a bond that goes beyond friendship.

When you throw your next snowball, think about taking thousands of swings at a hardball right now.

It is soft toss in some hard conditions, and the kid with his gloves on the aluminum in the frozen tundra of Pawtucket is 12-year-old Sparr.

He started in balmy October at a pace of 100 swings a day.

Not every swipe is outdoors but when Sparr’s home, he’s usually in the backyard with his brother, dad or anyone he can find to toss him a few dozen.

“He’s counting,” his father Jeffrey Sparr said. “Ask him. It’s not 97. It’s not 98. It’s a hundred plus.”

The list of guest tossers has included a few celebrities, including Pawtucket Red Sox mascot Paws, who also took a few swings, and local movie stars Sam and Mattie, who you met on the set of their film back in some warmer weather.

“Sometimes I don’t want to do it,” Grayson said between swings. “But I just think of Luke and how he has to fight every day.”

Luke was an active, young athlete in Lubbock, Texas, with a sweet swing.

He loves baseball as much as Grayson, but a golf cart accident in the summer of 2015 left Luke with a serious brain injury.

His father and Grayson’s father are friends, and when Grayson was looking for a public service project for his Bar Mitzvah, he decided to swing for the fences for the Team Luke Foundation, created to raise money and awareness for families with children who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

So when his hands are sore or he’d rather do something else, whether it’s inside with Wiffle balls or outside in the cold, this 12-year-old needs only one syllable to make him keep swinging.

“Well, Luke,” he said. “Because I know he has to go through physical therapy every day. So, I have to fight.”

Grayson has two more days of swings, hoping to raise some cash for the foundation, with a suggested donation of $23. (That is combination of Grayson’s uniform number 2 and Luke’s 3.)

Luke’s father is planning to be in Pawtucket to toss the final 100 on Sunday.

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