KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee baseball star Drew Gilbert is using his platform to give back to a cause he has a very personal connection to.
All weekend during the Vols' series against Georgia, the outfielder has partnered with East Tennessee Children's Hospital to run "Bat Flip 4 Kids," a fundraiser to help patients and families in need.
100% of all proceeds will go towards providing toys for kids and meal cards for families at ETCH.
Gilbert dealt with severe gastrointestinal issues as a child, and while he doesn't remember much about that time, he does remember everything feeling "never-ending."
"I know how hard it is on kids," Drew Gilbert said. "If I can give back to them and give them something to be happy about when they're going through something like this, I know how much that means."
The Stillwater, Minn. native spent a large part of his childhood in the hospital, either getting surgery or recovering from surgery, and it kept him away from sports and school almost the entire time. Eventually, Gilbert began to see his issues go away, and he said it's still unclear exactly what got him over those final hurdles.
"To this day, no one knows why, all of a sudden, I got better," Gilbert said. "It was a massive relief once I got better because I always wanted to go to school and play baseball."
It's that relief that Gilbert, with help from his mom and ETCH, is trying to help others feel.
"I've kind of been given my life back," Gilbert said. "I feel like it's my duty to maximize what I have and give back and try to inspire people as I go."