Avery and Elliot Miller Sign with Bandits Through “Friends of Jaclyn Foundation”
ROSEMONT, Ill. — Watching a family member struggle with a life-threatening illness is hard. With some help from the Bandits and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, Avery and Elliot Miller of Plainfield, were rewarded for their support.
Avery and Elliot’s younger brother Austin, age 4, was diagnosed with leukemia in September 2018 and has been undergoing treatment ever since. Meanwhile, Avery, 11, and Elliot, 8, have had to work their schedules around Austin and have missed out on activities and time with friends.
But the Millers’ mother, Rachel, came into contact with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and the Safe on the Sidelines for Siblings program. Avery has played softball for five years, and Rachel said the Bandits are her heroes. Friends of Jaclyn contacted the Bandits, who said they would love to adopt Avery and Elliot.
“For siblings, it’s really hard too,” Rachel said. “They watched [Austin] go through a lot of hard stuff, they missed school to be at the hospital, they missed out on playdates. We couldn’t have a lot of kids come to our house because his immune system was so low for the first nine months. They sacrificed a lot and got lost in the shuffle.”
On Tuesday, Avery and Elliot met the entire team in their locker room, signed contracts with the Bandits and received their own lockers for the rest of the season, complete with a jersey and warm-up shirt. The sisters got to take batting practice before thedoubleheader and throw out ceremonial first pitches. They also got to pick an item from the merchandise trailer to give to Austin.
Bandits infielder Courtney Gano met Avery at a game last season and took a picture with her, which Avery still has on her bulletin board at home. Gano said she reached out to General Manager Toni Calmeyn and Assistant General Manager Jourdan Skirha, who were enthusiastic about having the sisters meet the team.
“Seeing them interact with the girls, get their hair braided, it’s really cool to see them connect,” Gano said. “This program gives [siblings] an opportunity to get the attention they deserve right now and make them feel loved and special. We’re just here to show them support.”
Rachel said Austin is already starting to feel better and is confident he will eventually be in remission. She expressed her gratitude toward both the Bandits and Friends of Jaclyn and said this is an experience the entire family will never forget.
“This is amazing. You can just tell that these are amazing people,” Rachel said. “Creating a special opportunity for our girls puts our hearts back together after a hard, long several months. It’s really healing for all of us.”
ABOUT CHICAGO BANDITS
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of the National Pro Fastpitch league. Entering their 14th season as a franchise, the Bandits have provided the Chicago area with high-level softball talent and entertainment en route to capturing six regular season titles and four Cowles Cup championships, the most recent coming during the 2016 campaign. Located in Rosemont, the Bandits play at Parkway Bank Sports Complex, one of the premier softball facilities in the nation. Parkway Bank Sports Complex is the only stadium in the country built exclusively for a women’s professional softball team. The Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch softball players to further their careers at the professional level and has included legendary figures such as Jennie Finch, Tammy Williams and Stacy May-Johnson.