On May 11th, Carter Kieboom’s future was looking up as a top prospect for the Washington Nationals Single-A affiliate Hagerstown Suns. Kieboom was exceeding expectations with the bat and glove and showing off some surprising power and a big .984 OPS. He got quite the scare the next day as he went down in a heap of pain running to 1st base that gave Nats fans a scare thinking what had just happened to Adam Eaton. The 19-year-old middle infielder was lucky the injury wasn’t season ending. It was a Grade 2/3 hamstring injury that CBS Sports originally reported he would need just a few weeks, and he would actually need nearly 2 months to heal and rehab and now Kieboom is on a rehab assignment at the Washington Nationals Gulf Coast League (GCL) affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The extra time away from baseball allowed Kieboom some extra time to reflect on his own life and where he wanted it to go. The 2016 #1 draft pick of the Nationals was inspired by this video he saw which featured a man opening up packs of Bowman baseball cards that are part of the Topps sets, and the packs included an autographed Carter Kieboom card along with Mike Trout and others. The man opening the cards is Steve Winfree of Tennessee who is in need of a kidney and his wife, Heather, had a ‘reveal’ card she had custom made at Topps inserted into the pack to let him know that she was donating her kidney to him. The video has gone viral with over 240,000 views just on YouTube but millions worldwide on other platforms.
Carter Kieboom has been in touch with Steve Winfree, and now Kieboom is taking up the cause and raising money for the American Kidney Fund.
“It was a sign that I am called to help with something much greater than the game of baseball, the game of life,” Carter Kieboom wrote to me. “I hope that with this fundraiser and the auction of my game used bat and batting gloves that we can come together and raise money and awareness to a great cause and those in need.”
What makes the video so great is the love and thought that Heather Winfree put into it, and what she wrote on the baseball card that she was donating one of her kidneys to her husband, you can see Steve Winfree became emotional. How could he not be.
You can donate on Carter’s link: https://fundraise.kidneyfund.org/kieboom
“I saw the video on Sports Illustrated after someone sent me a message saying they weren’t sure that they heard my name in it or not,” Kieboom said. “When Steve opened my card, he didn’t really know who I was. But I think my card was put in there for a reason. I felt that was my calling to do something for him and the American Kidney Fund.”
For every $25 on Kieboom’s page (fundraise.kidneyfund.org/kieboom) earns entry into a raffle for a game-used bat and batting gloves. With a gift of $250, a donor will receive a signed batting glove. A donation of $1,000 is good for a signed bat. This particular event continues through August.
— American Kidney Fund (@KidneyFund) July 28, 2017
Fortunately, there is no family history of kidney disease for Kieboom and this is just about giving back to a man he felt a connection with that all began with a baseball card.
“It was a powerful video,” Kieboom said. “It inspired me to the point where I don’t think I could just watch it and move on. I had to do something about it.”
Carter’s brother and agent, Trevor, is helping in the effort also so this has become more of a family crusade.
Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States and many never make it to to point of receiving a transplant. More kidney facts here from NIH.
— Knoxville Kidney Guy (@Steve_Winfree) July 19, 2017