SULLIVAN, MO. (KTVI) - A silver lining is emerging from a cloud of theft and disappointment in Sullivan, MO., where the local softball league’s equipment was stolen last week. No suspects have been caught, but an outpouring of generosity has already generated the equipment’s replacement value and then some.
There were smiles among the players from the Sullivan Girls Softball Association, Tuesday night. It was a far cry from the week before, when they wondered if they would have a season this spring.
“The girls were fearful that we wouldn’t have a season or it would be shortened,” league board member Kristi Wheeler said. “But we told them we would do whatever it took to keep going and make sure it happened.”
Asked if that’s kind of a scary promise to make, wheeler said, “Yes it is but I was willing to do anything it took.”
It began in the storage complex where the league keeps gear for nineteen teams. Someone broke into the locker they use and cleaned it out. League officials were shocked, but didn’t sit by. They took to the media. A Fox 2 story from last week remains on the league’s website, and it paid dividends. People started coming forward, donating the $8000 needed to replace the equipment. Then, Tuesday night, Mercy Health System donated $4000 more.
“I think it’s a statement somewhat of our society and it’s pretty sad,” Mercy Clinic President Dr. David Chalk said of his reaction to the story. “When you think of someone breaking into a storage shed and taking what was very clearly youth sports equipment, one wonders what goes through their head.”
Now the league is trying to figure out how to allocate the extra money they have. Every penny, they say, will go to improving the thirty year old softball organization.
As for the outpouring of support, “Absolutely crazy,” Wheeler said. “I feel like I’ve been on my phone 24 hours a day.”
Her daughter Harli, a former player, agrees, “It’s been phenomenal. It’s been amazing seeing all these people contribute and understanding what we’ve gone through.”
They wonder about the thief or thieves, but not as you might think.
“Not who but why?” Wheeler asked. “What are you going to do with nineteen teams worth of softball gear? Craig’s list? Recycle the bats? What are they doing with it?”
Police still have no suspects in the case.
Thieves Steal Girls Softball League’s Equipment