‘A dream come true’: 5-year-old heart transplant survivor gets special tour of Fifth Third Field

5-year-old Emmalyn Rowan recently celebrated three years since her heart transplant and got to explore Fifth Third Field with the umpires.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Emmalyn Rowan is an inspiration to all.

The 5-year-old had her first open-heart surgery when she was 2 days old and recently celebrated the three-year anniversary of her successful heart transplant.

With the help of the Casey Cares Foundation, UMPS Care and the Toledo Mud Hens, Emmalyn was able to get a special behind-the-scenes tour of Fifth Third Field led by the umpires on Wednesday.

“She has her scars and the emotional scars and all of that that she has been through and has made her the strong person that she is.”  Emmalyn’s mother, Nicole Rowan, said. “But I want to kind of hide them just a bit so she remembers the fun times.”

The Casey Cares Foundation, a non-profit that provides fun activities for critically ill children and their families, provided more than 30,000 activities last year to 56,512 participants.

So when the opportunity for sports-loving Emmalyn to experience an exclusive Mud Hens tour arose, it was a no-brainer that the Rowan family would partake.

“I like to play basketball and play outside and get some exercise,” Emmalyn said. “And I like to play tag outside, but sometimes I fall at tag.”

Chris Marco, one of the umpires who accompanied Emmalyn on Wednesday, has been a part of multiple UMPS care events and said the children put life into perspective each time.

“With our job, some of the situations that we have on the field, off the field, the travel, we can feel like we have some bad days sometimes. But our worst day doesn’t even compare to an average day for them,” he said. “Just to be able to use the little bit of influence that we have to be able to meet with them on the field before the game, take them around the field, show them the dugouts, the batting cage, some bases … just seeing the relief and the joy that they get to experience, it’s very, very gratifying.”

That influence goes both ways as Emmalyn is interested in becoming a doctor when she grows up.

“Cause to help people, when they get hurt or when they’re sick,” she said. “Because when they get hurt, doctors help people like me.”

Rowan said that being in this position is a dream come true for Emmalyn and hopes to continue making up for lost time with family-bonding experiences like these.

“There was a time where we didn’t think she was even going to leave the hospital, so, all these times we can make these family memories and do these family experiences mean absolutely everything,” she said. “When you are faced with the reality that your child may not survive something, to see how she is now, to see the joy that’s in her eyes and her smile and the experiences that she’s just so happy to have, it is a dream come true.”

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