Texas Children's Hospital teen patient throws ceremonial 1st pitch at Rice University baseball game

Sunday, March 3, 2024
Unforgettable experience: 16-year-old Jaelyn Kirby throws out first pitch in Rice Owls' baseball game against Stanford
"I cannot stop smiling," 16-year-old Jaelyn Kirby told ABC13 after her first pitch. Kirby's unforgettable experience brought her a whole lot closer to the Rice baseball team than the 23rd floor of Texas Children's Hospital.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Jaelyn Kirby was back with the Rice baseball team this week - only now she's much closer to the team, and in more ways than one.

Late last month, 16-year-old Jaelyn, a Texas Children's Hospital patient, was being treated for a health scare resulting from her rare genetic condition called Marfan syndrome. She watched Rice's February 20th baseball game from her room on the 23rd floor of Texas Children's Hospital.

After the photos went viral, only ABC13 was there the following day when Rice baseball players visited Jaelyn in the hospital to meet and greet, and deliver Owls merch. Players Parker Smith, J.D. McCracken, and Kyte McDonald invited her to throw out a first pitch at an upcoming game.

So, prior to the Owls' Saturday game against Stanford, in the shadows of the medical center and with Parker Smith behind the plate, Jaelyn tosses the ceremonial first pitch.

This unforgettable experience brings her a whole lot closer to the Rice baseball team than the 23rd floor of Texas Children's Hospital.

"I cannot stop smiling," Jaelyn told ABC13 after her first pitch. "This week has been great - one of the best weeks of my life. I'm so excited to be here. I don't want to be back on the 23rd floor. I want to be here for the rest of my life."

"It's just about doing the right thing and bringing people joy," Parker Smith, a Bellaire High School product, shared with ABC13. "It's what we're brought up to do. It's the right thing to do at the end of the day."

Jaelyn had already planned to be in Houston this weekend. Earlier in the day, along with family and friends, she took part in the Marfan Syndrome Walk for Victory at Discovery Green.

Marfan syndrome is a rare disease affecting the heart, eyes, and skeletal system. The 2024 Houston walk raised more than $138,000!

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