By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala - Auburn senior Andolyn Parrish was in a tight spot.
Her 7-year-old guest, Kamauri, was hungry. They were in line at Plainsman Park's concession stand when Andolyn realized she didn't have her debit card or any cash.
"'I'm so sorry, Kamauri. I don't have anything to give you because I left all my stuff at home,'" Andolyn says. "He said, `That's okay.'"
Enter 11-year-old Madelyn Thompson, who had overheard their conversation.
"Five minutes later, she came up, and she tapped on my shoulder. Sweet little thing. She was so, so quiet. She came up and said, `Hey, I have this little pass that lets me get some free food. And I was wondering if he wanted to get something.'
"So I walked up there with her and we started to talk. I asked, `How did you get that? How did you manage that?' She said, `My dad is Coach Thompson.' It wasn't even like, `Hey, everybody, this is something I'm going to brag about.' She was really, really doing it out of the kindness of her heart."
While they waited, Andolyn told Madelyn about Project Uplift, a program that's been connecting Auburn student mentors with children in Lee County for more than 40 years.
"I guess that's when she went back, and she told her mom about it," Andolyn says.
In a Facebook post later that evening, Andolyn picked up the story.
"About an hour later, she tapped my shoulder again. "I heard him say it's his first game, and I was wondering if he would want to come onto the field after the game and meet my dad and the players," she wrote on April 29th.
"She really thought that she should go the extra mile and make all of that happen for him," Andolyn says. "It still blows my mind that somebody so young would just have that kind of heart."
For Kamauri, the best was yet to come.
"After the game, I got the opportunity to meet him and sign a couple things, and meet those people who are the true heroes," Auburn coach Butch Thompson says, referring to Andolyn and her fellow Project Uplift mentor.
"Proud of my daughter, too, for thinking of others," Thompson says. "Pretty neat when you're not even there or not even aware. And when your children do something above and beyond. Makes you feel good as a parent."
Kamauri wanted to meet the tallest Tiger. That's where 6-foot-7 Gabe Klobosits, who was just about to help pull the tarp to cover the infield, comes in.
"And I met him. Come to find out, it's his first baseball game. And I thought it was pretty neat," Gabe says.
"I got everyone to line up, meet him and sign autographs," he says. "Kind of made it a special night for him. We got him some batting gloves and a hat. So he could remember this moment, and hopefully he enjoyed it. Just glad to have him out here."
"Kamauri was just speechless. He didn't even know what to say," Andolyn says. "A lot of our Project Uplift kids don't have a lot of positive role models to look up to."
In addition to the souvenirs, Coach Thompson gave Kamauri a pep talk.
"And Kamauri walked away and said, `That was the nicest guy I ever met,'" Andolyn says. "Because he hugged him, and he talked about baseball. He said, `You know, Kamauri, one of these days, you can play for this team. You can play here on this field.'
"Because baseball is Kamauri's favorite sport. That impression is something that's going to stick with him for the rest of his life," she says.
"That wasn't something that was set up or orchestrated, or planned," Thompson says. "We all want to make a difference. And that's why we're all here. We all have a part in making Auburn baseball special. Because you never know whose first time it is to walk into Plainsman Park. I'm thankful for that night. And I want many more."
So moved was Andolyn by what she'd witnessed, she shared the story and pictures on social media.
"And I went to bed, I think it had 20 or 30 likes," she says. "When I woke up, it had like 400 shares. I still get notifications from it. It just blew up. I'm so thankful, because it finally got back around to the Thompsons. And they got to see the impact that they made."
"That's what I want," Thompson says. "That's part of the vision for somebody to come to an Auburn baseball game and get more than they expected. This is part of the vision. This is me, my family, our university, our alumni, our fans, our players, to all be involved in making Auburn something greater than ourselves. We're part of that and we need to give back."
"I'm just so thankful to be a part of that," Andolyn says. "And especially thankful to the Thompsons and the baseball team for just going above and beyond what is expected of them. It warmed my heart, and I know it warmed Kamauri's."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer