Eastern Mennonite University will hold a special ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 15, at 3:00pm to dedicate the new seating area behind home plate of Gehman Field. The built-in terraces were funded by the Kaitlin Aylor Memorial Fund.
Aylor was a Madison County High School softball player who died in an ATV accident in August of 2014, shortly before she was to begin her college career at Eastern Mennonite. A plaque in honor of Aylor has been placed on the completed seating area.
Director of Athletics Dave King said the seating area, as well as a red bud tree recently planted near Gehman Field in her memory, provide a lasting memory of Aylor.
“Soon after Kaitlin’s death, her family approached us about some type of memorial fund that would support the softball program,” explained King. “In our discussions with them, we agreed that something tangible at the field would be the best way to honor her life and connection to EMU softball. The concept of a terraced seating area rose to the surface and we began collecting funds. Besides the funds raised, we are so grateful for the generous donation of time and materials from Valley Building Supply, Andre Mast, Probst Excavating and the EMU facilities management staff of Lance and Kendal Wenger and Henry Bowser who did the installation.”
King explained that, at the request of the family, a special fundraising initiative will be introduced at Sunday’s ceremony in which personalized bricks can be purchased for $100 to complete the walkway in front of the seating area and create a living memory of Aylor. The fundraiser will run through the end of December with the bricks installed in the spring.
“Although Kaitlin never attended a class or participated in a practice at EMU, she had an impact on the team and the university,” said King. “During the recruiting process, relationships are built that have a lasting impact on students and families. Unless you have personally experienced the death of a child, teammate or close friend, you cannot understand the level of grief. I’m hopeful that this memorial can be a part of the healing process and will represent the life and legacy of Kaitlin.”
The dedication will be followed by a game between softball alumni. Kent and Sue Aylor, Kaitlin’s parents, will attend the ceremony. EMU Coach JD McCurdy, players and school administrators will all participate.