CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Monday, Corpus Christi Hooks manager Gregorio Petit tossed batting practice in the cages at Whataburger Field. However, Petit wasn’t throwing to any of his players, the batters were kids, including one foster child.
Nate Gonzalez is the eight-year-old behind Nate’s Next Kid Up. Two years ago, Gonzalez wanted to hold a Christmas toy drive for area foster kids. Since then, his organization has worked with CASA of the Coastal Bend.
“They don’t have moms and dads, and I do. I want them to feel cared like I do,” he said.
Gonzalez loves baseball, and wanted to share that experience with the foster child, who, to protect his identity, we’ll call ‘Ricky.’
Petit shared his expertise with Ricky and the other kids.
“Being able to give kids any time with them, it doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, or doing something else, for me, it’s huge,” he said. “I think it’s our responsibilities as adults is to share as much as we can with them, give them love, give them good times, make sure they smile, make sure they’re happy. I’m all in for that.”
In fact, it was the first time Ricky had ever swung a bat.
“He was not scared, but he was nervous about failing, and that’s what we go through sometimes with anything in life. But, him fighting that feeling, still doing it, and smiling, it makes the world to me,” Petit said.
“I know he’s thoroughly enjoyed a lot of the activities we’ve done,” said Aimee Masi, Ricky’s CASA volunteer. “I know this will be something that he’s very optimistic about, and he looks forward to, considering the situation that he’s going through. So, I’m glad to be a positive influence.”
Masi has been Ricky’s CASA volunteer for the last two months. As a CASA volunteer, Masi serves as an advocate for Ricky, and spends time doing fun activities with him.
“It’s always great for him to see other kids his age. To interact, and to be a part of activities and get out, especially in the summer. It’s been fun for him to have fun,” she said.
Friday night is CASA of the Coastal Bend night at Whataburger Field. The Hooks host the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, and CASA of the Coastal Bend and Nate’s Next Kid Up will hold a school supply drive for local foster kids.