DAYTON, Ohio (RMHC Dayton) – An RMHC Dayton family got a big surprise at a recent Dayton Dragons game. Caleb Schlater and his family were guests of honor at the Dragons vs. Lansing Lugnuts double-header on Sun., Sept. 5. Caleb was selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Gracelyn Schlater

Gracelyn Schlater was born with Trisomy 18 in 2015. The Schlater family stayed at RMHC Dayton for all nine weeks of her life.

The Schlaters’ relationship to RMHC Dayton started six years ago when their daughter, Gracelynn, was born. Gracelyn was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, or Edward’s Syndrome.

“She had a terminal diagnosis, and we were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House and be with her during those few months she was with us, “said Kerri Schlater, mom.

“Being at the Ronald McDonald House meant that we didn’t have to leave her. We were able to stay with her ever minute of her life.”

The Schlaters stayed at the House for all nine weeks of Gracelyn’s life. She passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her family.

RMHC Dayton stays in touch with many families after their stays and when the Schlaters needed help again in August of 2021, they were there.

“(Another) daughter had a severe brain injury and we needed to come up to the Ronald McDonald House and get reconnected,” said Kerri.

Gianna Schlater

The Schlater family utilized the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Dayton Children’s Hospital after another daughter, Gianna, suffered a severe brain injury.

The Schlaters were able to utilize the Ronald McDonald Family Room inside of Dayton Children’s Hospital during treatment.

“To have the support of the family rooms is nice because you can go somewhere to get away from the doctors so you can clear your head a little and decompress,” said Kerri.

When Cincinnati Bell and the Dragons reached out to see if a family might be interested in throwing out the first pitch, RMHC Dayton knew baseball was something important to the Schlaters.

Caleb said he was nervous but the pitch wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be.

“I got to see what it felt like (for players) to be pitching in front of so many people,” said Caleb.

caleb baseball

Caleb Schlater holds a Dragons baseball moments before throwing the ceremonial first pitch on Sept. 5.

It’s an experience Kerri said she’s thankful for after all her family has been through.

“Caleb loves baseball and it was really neat to bring some of his buddies up here and take a break from trying to make sure (his sister) is okay and to do something really cool because of the Ronald McDonald House.”