Aiden Leathers walked through the tunnel underneath the Texas Rangers baseball field starry-eyed. He and his big brother, Justin, 13, were being escorted to the field to throw out the celebratory first pitch for Buckner Day at the Rangers. That's a big task for anyone, much less a 5-year-old.
"How's your arm feel, Aiden? Do you want to warm up before we head out?" asked the Rangers client services coordinator.
Aiden nods yes, still a little unsure about everything going on around him.
The coordinator and Aiden toss the ball around until interrupted by Captain, the Rangers mascot. Seeing Aiden, he immediately walks over and gives him a high five.
Aiden looked over at his brother. He doesn't say a word, but his smile says it all. "Can you believe this?"
Aiden was adopted by Kristine and Michael Leathers through Buckner International in August after being in foster care for a year. When Kristine told Aiden he had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch, he was thrilled. The entire family loves the Rangers.
"OK, Aiden. The moment has come. Are you ready?" the coordinator asked.
"I'm so excited," Adiden exclaims as he runs out on the field.
To Aiden's right and left, professional ballplayers run past. In the stands, the crowd cheers as Aiden is introduced and he walks out confidently to the mound. He winds up and tosses a strike over home plate. After high-fiving the catcher and the mascot, he walks back toward the dugout, calm and collected, while his family cheers wildly. But his grin reaches from ear to ear as he hugs his parents and his brother.
"It was just an incredible day," Kristine said.
An incredible day filled with memories that will last a lifetime.