Helping however they can

Peschongs provide tickets to state for community

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Jeff and Cassidy Blackford, left, receive tickets from brothers Andrew and Tyler Peschong before Wednesday’s Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament game between Marshalltown and Urbandale. The Peschongs provided tickets to the first 100 Bobcat fans as a way to give back to the community.

DES MOINES — Over an hour before Wednesday’s Iowa High School State Baseball Tournament game between Marshalltown and Urbandale started, Bobcat fans were filing in to Principal Park in Des Moines.

The first 100 fans who showed up in MHS gear were greeted with a smile and a free ticket from brothers and Marshalltown graduates Andrew and Tyler Peschong, who stood in front of the Principal Park box office and gladly provided access to members of their community.

After all the town had been through in the last week while recovering from an EF-3 tornado rampaging through the heart of the city, the Peschongs said providing a service to the community was an easy decision.

“We came into town on Friday and just saw first hand the destruction and what’s going on in the community. It just kind of, you’re at a loss for words, no one really knows what to do,” Andrew said. “Marshalltown athletics meant so much to us growing up and this baseball team has been such a big part of the community on the field and off the field, so we just thought that if we could do a tiny gesture as a thank you and give people a little break from the reality of the situation and to smile for a few hours, if we could help a little bit with that then we are happy to help.”

Tyler, a member of the last Bobcat baseball team to qualify for state in 2009, said he and the rest of the family just wish there was even more they could do to help.

“You’ve got to do something, and that’s the coolest thing about being from Marshalltown,” Tyler said. “I don’t think there’s a single person that isn’t doing something. Whatever that is, you find what that is and go after it 110 percent.”

That want to help others isn’t necessarily unique to Marshalltown, as other communities affected by a disaster like this rally around each other, but Andrew said there is something special to the way this community interacts with one another.

“It’s a little different than a lot of other communities,” Andrew said. “It’s such a close-knit community, when things are going well people celebrate together and when things are down people persevere together. Right now is just one of those times and we are glad to be able to help a little bit.”

Tyler points to mentors in the community like MHS head baseball coach Steve Hanson as someone who taught him to help wherever he can.

“I played for coach Hanson and baseball means a lot to me individually and a lot to our family,” Tyler said. “Just the way he kind of makes a man out of you by the end of your career. We thought it was a perfect way to give back as much as we can and do our little part for a community that needs a lot of little parts to make it whole again. It’s the least that we can do for a town that means so much to us.”

Not only did the Peschongs offset the cost for many Marshalltownians that attended, they helped provide a bit of a distraction from what might be going on back at home.

“Athletics is such an escape for people. It’s an ability to smile and have fun and it’s a game, but a town like Marshalltown has so much pride and is such a hard-working town,” Andrew said. “The teams they put on the field display that as well, it’s kind of the fabric of the team. It’s easy to get behind a team like them.”

“Throughout all of our lives athletics has been kind of an escape for us,” Tyler added. “For a couple hours you can go play a game, whatever you have going on in life to be able to go get that release and go play a game and go enjoy yourself is a pretty powerful thing. When you put a community behind that, especially a community that has been impacted the way ours has been, I think sports just rallies them.”