LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Daryl Wade's life irrevocably changed on Aug. 25.
The director of the Houston Astros Youth Academy was already grieving his brother-in-law, Tommy Goree, who had died the day before after battling cancer. But a dangerous storm was brewing above his northwest Houston neighborhood, and he didn't have time to mourn. He knew he had to prepare.
At 4:30 in the morning, Wade gassed up all four of his vehicles. Three hours later, he was back on the road at a nearby store buying bags of ice and two cases of water.
The sky darkened. Then his phone rang. It was his son. Their house had been struck by lightning.
"'Daddy, come home. The house is on fire,'" Wade recalled his son's plea. "I said, 'Son, this is nothing to play with.' He hung up. He was serious."
Wade raced home to see his garage and all of those fully gassed vehicles ablaze. He found his sons, Daryl and Patrick, standing barefoot in their normal attire -- Astros T-shirts and shorts -- safely on the front lawn, but they were shaken up. His wife, Euletha, was safe. She had been staying with family as she mourned her brother.
That night, distraught and in shock, the family stayed at a hotel. They woke up to a city in turmoil as Hurricane Harvey destroyed Houston. What the fire didn't destroy of the Wade's home, the four days of rain did.
Wade called MLB's Baseball Assistance Team for help.
"When it happens, and people ask you what you need, you don't even know what to say," Wade said. "I called B.A.T., and because of the grant, we were able to go buy clothes and things we needed. I just had the clothes -- my Astros stuff and flip flops -- I was wearing. My wife had the jeans and clothes she was wearing. Same for my sons. B.A.T. really helped us."
Created in 1986 by a group of former Major Leaguers, The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) was formed to confidentially help members of the baseball family in need of assistance. More than three decades later, the organization still helps members of the baseball family in need of medical, financial, psychological and other types of assistance.
Throughout the years, the organization has awarded more than 3,600 grants and more than $35 million "to restore health, pride and dignity to members of the Baseball Family."
On Tuesday morning, B.A.T. held its inaugural breakfast at the Winter Meetings. Wade, who received a grant, chose to share his story and bring awareness to the program.
"The Winter Meetings is a gathering of the individual groups that we try to help," B.A.T. president and former Major League player Randy Winn said. "This is about awareness and letting people know that if you were in the game or still part of the game that we are here to help. The mission statement is to help members of the Baseball Family who are in need, and that's purposely vague so we can help with anything from somebody losing their home, putting food on the table, expenses, electricity or natural disasters like floods and hurricanes. We have seen a large group of people that have needed help from natural disasters."
Wade thanked the Astros' organization -- specifically team owner Jim Crane, president Reid Ryan and senior vice president Marcel Braithwaite -- during the two-hour event. The Wades are leasing a house for now and plan to build a new home.
"You never realize all of the stuff you have and accumulate as you live, and now it's all gone," Wade said. "I'll never get back to where I was and there's a lot of stuff I will never replace, and that's hard. For the first month, I laughed and I smiled. And then you start missing stuff and then it hits you again. I am very grateful to B.A.T. for their help.
"There's a story that I always mess up, but it's about the clown," he said. "The clown is the one who always keeps everyone happy, but who makes the clown happy when he's sad? I truly realized that a few days after August 25 who can make the clown laugh. That's B.A.T., [executive director] Erik [Nilsen] and [administrator] Katie [Lentz]. Thank you very much. I appreciate you."