Lowes find 'Strength In Struggle' to help others dealing with infertility

June 16th, 2024
Brandon Lowe, with wife Madison and their son, Emmett. (Via @madz_lowe on Instagram)

ST. PETERSBURG -- Hours before their series opener against the Royals last month at Tropicana Field, the Rays took the field wearing matching black T-shirts. Not long after, the Royals left their clubhouse for batting practice wearing the same shirts in white. Both featured identical logos on the chest and across the back: a mountain range, with peaks and valleys and three words written at the base.

“Strength In Struggle.”

The shirts came from a partnership between Rays second baseman , his wife Madison and MLB-licensed apparel company Tiny Turnip. They were designed as part of a program to raise awareness and support for those dealing with infertility and loss, a cause close to the Lowes’ hearts.

As they battled through the pain and sadness of infertility issues for nearly three years, Brandon and Madison Lowe couldn’t help but think at first that they were struggling alone. Their journey to parenthood was difficult, with two miscarriages, three failed rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) and a failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer before they welcomed their son, Emmett, in January 2023.

The Lowe family poses for a photo in their "Strength In Struggle" shirts. (Via @madz_lowe on Instagram)

Now, they’re doing what they can to help others facing similar circumstances.

“When we were going through it, especially the first time … we kind of isolated ourselves to a certain corner of the map, like, ‘Nobody else has ever gone through this. This is only happening to us,’ and just really beating ourselves down,” Brandon said. “We wanted to make sure other people weren’t going to be in that situation and other people were going to understand that we’re not alone in this fight.”

Over the offseason, Madison reached out to Tiny Turnip, which previously worked with Mike Trout to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That partnership led to the “Strength In Struggle” collection that’s now available, including the T-shirts worn by the Rays and Royals.

The Lowes also reached out to former Rays teammates and friends throughout the baseball community, sharing their mission with ambassadors from most MLB clubs and asking them to spread the word. With their help, the Lowes gathered signed memorabilia and gear from Tampa Bay and other teams around the Majors for an online auction during Infertility Awareness Month.

Proceeds from the apparel sales and auction bids will benefit the Baby Quest Foundation, an organization that provides grants to families who can’t afford expensive fertility treatments or medications.

“It was kind of a no-brainer for us to help him out and help get involved to help spread the word about a lot of the struggles that a lot of families have to go through,” Royals starter Michael Wacha, who became friends with Lowe while pitching for the Rays in 2021, told MLB.com’s Anne Rogers. “It’s a tough subject where a lot of people don’t like talking about it, because it’s sad and it can bring up bad thoughts or bad memories at times. I think it’s just important to let people know that they’re not alone out there.”

According to its website, the Baby Quest Foundation has awarded $3 million in funds through more than 250 grants, leading to at least 165 babies being born. Brandon and Madison began working with Baby Quest in 2022, when they selected the organization to receive Brandon’s $7,500 donation as Tampa Bay’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee.

For all their struggles, the Lowes recognized how fortunate they were, in a way, compared to others battling through the same issues. Thanks to Brandon’s successful career, they could afford the expensive treatments and medication. Not everyone can.

The Lowes wanted to find a way to help quickly and effectively. That ultimately led them to Baby Quest. Their donation helped pay for a successful IVF treatment for another family in Florida. They haven’t met, but Madison stayed in touch throughout their pregnancy and after the baby was born.

“It was awesome news, just to be part of helping a family welcoming a child,” Brandon said.

They hope that openly sharing their story will help many others do the same -- that there is strength in struggle, but also in numbers.

“There was a lot of the ‘Why me?’ talk when it first happened. ‘Why is this happening to us? What did we do wrong?’ And it kind of pushed both of us into our faith a lot more,” Brandon said. “I kept falling on that every single time, with every miscarriage that would happen, every failed IVF. You kind of kept seeing it.

“Well, God’s gifted us this platform. He’s gifted us the position to be able to not worry about the financial issues. Maybe we can do something else. He keeps putting us in these situations. Let’s get the word out there, that there are other people going through this. You are not the only ones.”

Last month, Madison announced that they are expecting another child, a girl. Brandon has already heard it from the Rays’ assortment of girl dads: He’s in trouble, because he’ll be wrapped around her finger from the moment she’s born. He couldn’t be more excited, and Madison couldn’t be happier.

Brandon has hit grand slams and walk-off home runs. He’s played in the World Series and been a part of plenty of memorable moments on the field with the Rays. But there’s something indescribably special about the moments they now share with Emmett after games, a joy they hope to share with others.

“It’s pretty great when Madison’s got him in her arms and the gates open and she sets him down, and he just sprints to you,” Brandon said, smiling. “That’s a pretty great feeling.”