Cole Johnson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – The Village of Moravia has been the site of a very popular softball tournament during the first weekend of August for the last 10 years; one that has grown from five teams to 16 teams. A weekend where many people pull out their dusty gloves and cleats from the basement just in time for the first pitch of the tournament.
Some people stack their teams and hope to make it to the end of the day to play for a championship, while others simply come for the fun. Some participants see old friends that make a trip home for the weekend, while others bring along teammates who have played sports with them since the little leagues.
While all of those things remained true this year, Saturday brought a different feel to Ettinger Field. As people filed in and waited to take the fields, it was hard to forget who all of this was for:
Not long after coming into this world, Koryn Badman was diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension—a condition that has a life expectancy of only five to seven years. As a testament to her immense toughness and positive attitude, she exceeded the odds and lived to the age of 15, passing away in 2008.
Not long after her passing, parents Scott and Gail Badman, and sister Jessica, wanted to continue her legacy by creating something in her name. They felt that her impact on everyone around her was too strong to let go.
“Koryn still gets brought up on a regular basis,” said Scott, Koryn’s father. “We don’t need to bring it up. We don’t need to try to say something about her, it just does. It just happens…she’s just special.”
This is when the Badmans came up with the idea of giving out a scholarship in Koryn’s name. The only thing they were missing was a fundraiser to help make that happen.
Originally planned to be a kickball tournament, Jessica came up with an idea for softball. This idea ultimately turned into the “Koryn Badman Ko-ed Softball Tournament”, and it has turned into something that the Badman family never expected to grow as much as it has.
“We really didn’t think it would last five years,” said Scott Badman. “For it to have grown that much, to be 10 years now, that has helped us tremendously.”
The money from the tournament has allowed the Badmans to grant a scholarship each year. The award goes to a graduating senior from Moravia High School who exudes the qualities that they saw in Koryn, while overcoming adversity and furthering their education into college.
Now that the tournament has taken off, the Badmans hope that no matter how long the tournament lasts for, that they will have enough funding to keep the scholarship lasting for years to come.
“Even if there’s two people out there that need the help and meet the criteria and we can do it, we’ll give two out,” said Scott. “We did this year.”
As for granting the scholarship each year, the Badmans find it fulfilling to help out someone in need, yet it doesn’t get any easier knowing that it has to be in exchange with the loss of their daughter.
“I’ve been standing up on a podium for 10 years and giving that speech. And it hits the heart really hard,” said Scott. “You feel you shouldn’t be needing to do that. I shouldn’t have to stand up there and give an award away for someone that only lived 15 years.”
Even though her time was short-lived, the Badmans still receive messages from Koryn’s closest friends because of the impact she had on them.
They even pointed to a written message on a whiteboard from a friend from 11 years ago.
“It’s right there. We haven’t erased it,” said Gail, Koryn’s mother. “She just had an aura. Her friends embraced it.”
A lot of Koryn’s friends were made through cheerleading, something that stood closer to her than anything else in the world for the 15 years she had on this earth. Her dedication to cheerleading is what made her stand out. It’s also what drives her mother to continue to coach cheerleading and her father to stay on the sidelines for football.
“We want to do something better for someone else and make a difference,” said Scott. “When we coach, they’re our kids. When I see them, I see my daughter.”
The Badmans also believe that cheerleading is what helped keep her alive for so long. Her constant positive attitude always brought a smile to people’s faces.
“She wanted to be like everyone else,” Scott added. “Cheerleading was her life. She wanted to be there, be a part of it. It was very important to her. It was important to her teammates that she was there.”
It was Koryn’s sheer toughness that almost shaded the fact that she was going through pain every day. There were times when the Badmans take a trip to New York City in order for Koryn to receive certain procedures.
“Koryn was tough. She didn’t complain about all the procedures she had to have, all the times they had to knock her out,” Scott explained. “Most of the people in her class didn’t even know she was sick.”
After hours of procedures, Koryn still didn’t let that stop her from doing what she loved. Even being hours away from home.
“She would say ‘Dad, I want to go to the game tonight,’” said her father. “We would drive straight through from New York City and give her special permission from Mrs. Wykstra for her to be able to go to the game, in uniform…that’s just who she was.”
Being who she was is something that can never be replaced, but the Badmans also want to thank the community for embracing her legacy, because without that, there may be nothing left except the memory of their little girl.
“One of the things you can’t discount whatsoever, is the community,” said Scott. “There’s a lot of support for this event. We’re grateful to all of them. Without them, and they don’t even realize it, this can’t go on.”
At the end of the day, a local team sponsored by Cascade Fabrication won the tournament. However, the memory of this inspiring young girl who made positive impressions on many in a small community was the biggest win of the day. With her smile, humble attitude, and enough heart to fill a room, there’s an impact that still remains today.
It’s an impact that will forever be more than just a slow-pitch softball tournament. It’s also something that continues to bring the community together and will continue to benefit the lives of many more students with a scholarship in Koryn Badman’s name.