This year, Jay Robinson and Tyler Wilson helped Lander University’s baseball team to the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles and the NCAA Division II Southeast regional championship. That qualified the team to play in the Division II College World Series in North Carolina in May for the first time in the program’s history. Their amazing stories have prompted an anonymous donor to create a scholarship at Lander in their names.
The Jay Robinson and Tyler Wilson Baseball Scholarship will be awarded to a member of Lander’s baseball team. Vice President for University Advancement Ralph Patterson said the donor has agreed to match gifts made to the scholarship by Lander alumni and friends of the university up to $10,000.
Patterson said the donor was inspired by a feature article by NCAA.com writer Rick Houston, focusing on how Robinson and Wilson overcame long odds to recover from life-threatening diseases. Houston wrote, “Wilson and Robinson are fortunate to be playing for a national championship; both are lucky to be alive.”
Wilson, a Spartanburg native and outfielder on the Bearcats team, graduated from Lander in May. When he was 13 years old, he was stricken with pneumococcal meningitis, which infected his spinal cord and the lining of his brain. Doctors did not offer his family much hope that he would recover but he did recover and, about a month later, he was back on the baseball diamond.
Robinson, a right-handed pitcher from Shelby, N.C., will be a red-shirt senior on the Lander baseball team next spring. At age 12, doctors discovered that he had a tumor encircling the base of his brain. He was treated at hospitals in Charlotte and New York City and, like Wilson’s family, his parents were told to expect the worst.
He underwent radiation treatments and surgery and, when his condition improved and allowed him to, Wilson was able to return to his Little League baseball team.
Writer Houston titled his story about Robinson and Wilson “Lander’s Miracle Kids,” to describe the traumatic ordeals they both survived when they were about the same age and their talents on the baseball field for Lander.
Patterson said he is thrilled that members of Lander’s championship baseball program are inspiring alumni and friends. He added, “This is a great opportunity for donors to double their gift through the match of our anonymous donor, and the result is a great scholarship that will benefit future Lander students. "
Patterson said information about contributing to the Robinson and Wilson Baseball Scholarship and other giving opportunities at Lander can be obtained by calling the University Advancement Office at 864-388-8350.