Sister of Heart Recipient Delivers Opening Day Game Ball to Busch Stadium for GBR16 -- The Homers for Health Game Ball Relay

Posted April 12, 2016 in News Category
g02415841460402775080highcropped-nvyLauren Ryker, left, and her mother April delivered the Opening Day game ball to Busch Stadium on Monday. Lauren's brother, 5-year-old Luke, received a heart transplant last week.

The sister of a heart recipient delivered the home opener game ball to home plate at Busch Stadium on Monday as part of a partnership between SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Six-year-old Luke Ryker, who was listed for a heart transplant in 2015, was scheduled to finish the Homers for Health Game Ball Relay from SSM Health Cardinal Glennon to Busch Stadium. However, his family received the call last week: A heart was available for Luke.

The family was notified while in their apartment at the Mid-America Transplant Family House, where they’ve stayed since 2015. The Mid-America Transplant Foundation was a proud sponsor of Luke and his family for the Homers for Health Game Ball Relay.

Luke’s sister, Lauren, filled in for the half-mile trek assigned to the family.  Their leg of the Game Ball Relay began at Spruce Street and Tucker Boulevard and ended at Ballpark Village, where Lauren and her mother, April, met up with legendary Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog. Herzog had a signed baseball to give to Luke. The message: “To Luke, the Cardinals and I love you. Whitey Herzog”

20160411125555webresFormer Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog wrote a note on a baseball for Luke: “To Luke, the Cardinals and I love you. Whitey Herzog”

Lauren, April and Whitey continued the journey to home plate after a couple television interviews.

Along the way, Lauren and Team Ryker were met with cheers. The rainy, chilly morning made for a slow start to the Homers for Health Game Ball Relay. Just as the relay reached Team Ryker, the rain stopped and the sun peeked through the clouds.

Lauren was off and running.

Once inside Busch Stadium, Lauren rode a golf cart around the warning track with her mother, Luke’s doctor, Dr. Peterson, and Whitey. From home plate, Lauren and April walked the ball to the pitcher’s mound to complete the Homers for Health Game Ball Relay. It led off the Opening Day festivities, followed by the Clydesdales, Cardinals Hall of Famers, and the introduction of Cardinals players. 

20160411125413croppedwebresTeam Ryker with former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog

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