IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - With the sun shining through a bright blue sky on Saturday, it was a perfect day to play ball in Iowa City.
“I feel so close to Austin, knowing that he might’ve had something to do with the weather for us today,” said Craig Schroeder, Austin Schroeder’s dad.
Fans filled the stands at the University of Iowa's Duane Banks Field to take in some baseball and raise money in honor of Austin Schroeder, who was known better as “Flash.”
Baseball was his favorite sport, and his parents, Craig and Stacy, said it was a natural fit for a kid like him.
“Baseball is so much of a team sport and so much of an individual, that you have to rise above the adversity, and it’s always for the greater good of the entire team,” Craig said.
His parents said he brought that same care and spirit with him when he was being treated for T-cell lymphoma, a type of cancer, at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital a few years ago.
“During his year-and-two-week battle with cancer, several times, he talked about how unfair it was that all those other kids in the hospital with him that had to go through this,” Craig said.
That’s the inspiration that led his parents to create the Fight with Flash Foundation after he died in 2015, and to start the Crosstown Classic tournament, in which six local high school teams play against each other.
Saturday’s tournament was the fifth time the Crosstown Classic has been played. It was preceded Friday night with a baseball clinic for more than 100 younger kids who play the sport.
The money raised through the Fight with Flash Foundation helps young adults battling cancer at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, along with their families.
Over the last five years, the Schroeders said the foundation has raised nearly $300,000 to help about 90 families around Christmas time.
“His wish was to always beat cancer, go back to the hospital, talk to those kids about, ‘Win the day,’ about finding the positives, about never ever giving up,” Craig said.
As players wore jerseys on Saturday with that same "Win the Day" mantra written across their backs, and family and friends donned shirts that spread the message too, the Schroeders said for “Flash,” this day is won — and he was probably taking in some baseball to celebrate.
“We know he’s smiling down for sure,” Stacy said.
“He’s very, very happy that people would come and do this for him and doing it to make a difference for others right across that street,” Craig added.