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CHaD baseball special for Cottrells

By JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 11. 2017 10:40PM
Team Police's Steve Chase, of New Boston Police, hangs out with his Chad Buddy Magra Gillis, 8, from Nashua during the annual CHaD Battle of the Badges held at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Friday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Participants in the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) Battle of the Badges Baseball Classic find it easy and rewarding to forge a lifelong relationship with their CHaD buddies. No player has ever had it easier than Gilmanton’s Brian Cottrell, though.

The Barnstead Fire Department captain, who participated in his first CHaD game on Friday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, had the unique pleasure of being paired with his daughter, 10-year-old Isabella, as part of the buddy program tied with the CHaD baseball and hockey games. Brian and Isabella are the first family duo to participate in the game in the seven years it’s been running. While Brian played in the game, Isabella sang the national anthem prior to it.

Isabella, who uses CHaD services for a blood disorder and minor scoliosis, actually carries more CHaD game experience than her father as she sang the anthem at the Battle of the Badges hockey game at SNHU Arena in March. The desire to participate in the game was always there for Brian, but it wasn’t until this year that time allowed him to hit the field.

“I actually never even had the chance to get out and try out for the team because of my work schedule,” said Brian prior to Team Fire suffering a 15-2 loss to Team Police in front of a crowd of 1,954. “This year was different though. I decided to go for it and actually got accepted and here we are.”

Brian ended up finishing the game with a strikeout in his one plate appearance while logging two innings at first base. It was the first time Isabella, along with mother Raelyn and little brother Damon, had ever seen Brian play baseball, let alone don a uniform. Brian admitted he wouldn’t be the most talented player on the field, but the opportunity to support Isabella and her cause was one he could not pass up.

“It’s very humbling for me. With her disorder, things could go horribly wrong at any given time,” Brian said. “If there is something I can do to make everything fixable, beyond being her dad, then I am going to do it.

“Police and Fire are all here for that very reason. We’re supposed to be there for them on their worst days, so it’s nice to show support and have them know they’re not alone in this.”

While watching Brian strut his stuff on the field was a treat for the Cottrell family, having Brian and Isabella paired in the buddy program carried greater weight.

“Isabella has been super excited that her dad has been able to be her buddy,” Raelyn said. “She’s been doing these games for a long time and she’s been bounced around a few times through different CHaD buddies in baseball while hockey has been a fairly consistent. … They have a deeper connection now after getting to share in this experience together.”

The Cottrells are no strangers to the CHaD experience, with Isabella participating in the Battle of the Badges for years. The family is equally experienced when it comes to Isabella’s blood disorder. They’ve come a long way in terms of preventing issues with their daughter’s sensitive affliction.

“It’s been a learning curve for all of us, but she’s had to understand a lot about the disorder since we are not with her all the time now,” Raelyn said. “She’s had to learn how to manage things when she gets cut and whatnot. She’s super smart, though, and picks right up on it. She’s probably more well-versed in it than even I am.”

Despite her passion for the CHaD games, Isabella’s disorder has kept her from playing sports. Instead, the youngster has turned to singing and acting. Raelyn said Isabella just wrapped up filming a small movie last weekend and she even has a profile page on IMDb.com, a renowned search database for film and television.

Isabella got to show off her voice again on Friday, which caused a familiar reaction from her parents.

“Both Brian and I always cry when she sings. It’s a given every time,” Raelyn said. “She loves to sing, but most importantly she loves to give back. She loves giving to communities and to CHaD. She takes it as one of her jobs and singing (at these events) is just part of it.”

The giving mentality runs in the family, which was evident with Brian’s efforts on Friday and while raising $1,482 for the event.

“I’ll do anything to make their lives happy and show them I care,” Brian said. “Obviously we do a lot of stuff with a family dynamic, but this whole process has been about them, not me. I’ll go home with a few bumps and bruises, and probably say that I’m tired, but oh well.”

Team Police scored in all but two innings and banged out 17 hits to earn its second consecutive Baseball Classic win. The Police staked themselves to a 3-0 lead after two innings and poured it on late with nine of their runs in their final two turns. Additionally, Team Police held Team Fire to just three hits and only one of the two runs was earned. ... The players and the event combined to raise $102,000 this season, which runs the cause’s overall total to $420,000. Team Police captain Chris Heney, of Meredith, was recognized before the game as the top fund-raiser among players after pulling in $7,860 in donations, according to the event’s website.

jduball@unionleader.com


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