She’s a proven running champion who will be competing in the Class 5A State Championships Track and Field Meet on Saturday at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium in Baton Rouge.
But Ruston High School junior Lily Garrett is a champion at other things, too.
She also champions her grandfather, Edwin Davis, as well as a cause near and dear to Davis and Buddy Ball of Ruston.
And in a championship move, Garrett donated a $10,000 check to Buddy Ball of Ruston on Saturday morning during the last spring games for the nonprofit organization that holds softball games for special needs children.
In January, Garrett was recognized as one of the top prep athletes in the nation after being named the 2021-22 Gatorade Louisiana Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
That award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Garrett as Louisiana’s best high school girls cross country runner.
Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform, Garrett earned the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of her choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports.
Garrett was also eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization she chose is deserving of one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year.
Which she did, and won — donating the money to Buddy Ball of Ruston.
“I knew right away we could earn that — Buddy Ball earns that,” Garrett said. “When we found out my mom told me that I should totally do that for Buddy Ball, and everybody was all for it.”
The video Garrett created featured Davis, who she calls “Pop” and her cousin Kyle Plunk.
“We have those together in the video, which is kind of special, and then explained what Buddy Ball was and what it means to us,” Garrett said. “Kyle was the first grandchild in my family and has special needs. So Pop went to Texas to visit and went to a Buddy Ball game Kyle was playing in there, and then came home and got Buddy Ball started in Ruston. He saw how much Kyle loved it, so he came back and started it here. It all started with Kyle, and then Pop got it started in Ruston.”
So on Saturday morning Garrett stood before the large crowd on hand attending the two Buddy Ball games with “Pop and Kyle,” and with Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker and City Council Women Carolyn Cage flanking them, presented her check to Buddy Ball director Mike Kane, who also honored Davis with a lifetime achievement award for founding Buddy Ball of Ruston.
“It made me feel good knowing that I helped raise money for such a good thing,” Garrett said. “Hopefully it can help Buddy Ball keep going and growing.”
Kane said the donation capped off a great spring for Buddy Ball of Ruston.
“We’re getting bigger and better, but we still have plenty of room to serve many more children who truly need this kind of thing,” Kane said. “I can’t say enough about Dr. Davis and what he means to the organization — he created it. And now to have Lily do this — we’re already looking to the fall season and continue making this bigger and better.”
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