OGDEN — The Ogden Raptors and fans will celebrate the life of Utah native Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, at a Pink the Park game Saturday to raise money for her organization.
Emilie's parents, Robbie and Alissa Parker, created The Emilie Parker Art Connection to support art programs in schools and communities and as a way to honor and remember their 6-year-old daughter.
Dave Baggott, Ogden Raptors president, said players will wear pink jerseys, Emilie's favorite color, with her name on the back. The jerseys will be auctioned at the end of the game for $500 with proceeds going to the family's organization. Fans are also encouraged to wear pink to the game.
Baggott said while sitting on his couch in December watching the news of the shooting unfold, his "jaw dropped" when he recognized a photo of former Raptors employee Robbie Parker and Emilie at the ballpark, and he knew he wanted to do something to help.
"A ballpark is home, and everybody there is your family," Baggott said.
Besides raising money for the organization, Baggott said he wanted Pink the Park to be a time for the Parker family to enjoy a summer baseball game.
"We're simply inviting (Robbie) to come to the ballpark, open a bag of peanuts, have a soft drink and forget about your troubles for a while," he said.
Baggott said he just wanted to celebrate a "wonderful girl who didn't have a chance at a life or a future," and celebrate her sisters Madeline and Samantha.
Robbie Parker said The Emilie Parker Art Connection is a gift to their daughter and was their way of capturing Emilie as a person.
"The way she expressed herself was through art," he said.
Baggott said he knows $500 is a lot to ask for sports memorabilia, but he can't think of a more honorable cause.
"I'm asking the community to not only show up in presence but step up financially," he said.
Robbie Parker said when Baggott called him with the idea, he was overwhelmed. He said he is excited to be back in the Beehive State, to be around family, take a few days off work and go to a ballgame. Raising money for Emilie's foundation will be the "icing on the cake," he said.
Robbie Parker said coping with the death of Emilie is "definitely a process that we're still trying to find our way through." But he said the family is finding ways to find solace and said Madeline and Samantha bring him and his wife joy.