OLDS - In person or by video, three youth from Olds outlined how the Rotary Club had changed their lives for the better during Take Me Out To The Ball Game, the Rotary Club of Olds' fall fundraiser.
That event was held Oct. 26 at the Olds College Alumni Centre.
Rayna Cruickshanks began playing ball when she was just six years old. Now at age 16, she's risen through the ranks to play A-level ball with the Red Deer Rage U-16 team.
"I'm playing at the A level against some of the best teams in Alberta and in Canada," she said.
"My team ended up going undefeated at provincials, bringing home the gold medal and qualifying for nationals," she added, sparking loud applause.
"Not only is ball a passion, a hobby or something to fill your spare time with, but it's a sport that teaches so many young athletes life skills and discipline. Leadership and sportsmanship are skills that stay with athletes for life," Cruickshanks said.
"A ballplayer also learns respect for coaches, umpires and other teams, as well as how to handle pressure on and off the field."
Cruickshanks said she has had the opportunity not only to watch her younger siblings play ball, but also to teach other young players how to play the game.
"It's very clear that these are talented young athletes who have the potential to do great things with their ball," she said. "With these new diamonds being developed, Olds will be able to further enhance their minor softball and baseball programs.
"I'm really looking forward to more great years of watching and playing the sport I love and I hope that most of you here tonight are looking forward to these diamonds as much as I am.
"A great thank you to the Rotary Club. It wouldn't be possible without them," she said, spurring applause.
Via video, two other youth who grew up in Olds talked about how the local Rotary Club has changed their lives via a Rotary exchange to Mazatlan, Mexico and a trip to Ottawa through Rotary Adventures in Citizenship.
Rotary Club of Olds president Wayne Burgess said the club is continuing to send youth on various trips to enrich their lives and their understanding of the world.
"You know, these kids, when they go to these things and they come back and they present to us, it's unbelievable I guess, how they change when they come back. We send away kids and we bring back adults," he said.