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York County girl to toss first pitch for Orioles

SARA BLUMBERG
YorkDispatch

Landyn Grove promised to wear orange Monday night, though her favorite color is purple.

The 7-year-old Jacobus resident says she's a Baltimore Ravens fan.

Her father, not so much.

"I'm trying to get her to root for the other purple," said Dave Grove, Landyn's father. "We're working on it."

He loves the Minnesota Vikings.

On Monday, talk of football will be sidelined to make way for baseball. Landyn was asked to throw out the first pitch for the Baltimore Orioles.

The honor is bittersweet for the outgoing kid, who has worked to overcome numerous medical issues in her short life.

Medical problems: Landyn gets around in a wheelchair. She suffers from spina bifida, a birth defect in which the backbone is not completely closed, exposing membranes around the spinal cord.

The Groves adopted Landyn when she was a baby. While they were at first concerned about adopting a special needs child, "When I met her in the NICU, I was in love — that was my little princess," Dave Grove said.

He was also adopted as a child, so he and wife Rhonda Grove wanted to explore the concept that was so personal to him, he said.

Over the years, the York County community has rallied behind Landyn. Fundraisers have helped the family get a new van and motorized wheelchair to help with her special needs.

An anonymous donor pledged funds to help build a pavilion in the Grove's backyard to allow Landyn to play outside since she is heat intolerant.

Landyn developed the intolerance while taking medication to help treat the spina bifida, he said.

"The good news is, we are seeing an improvement," he said. "...Through it all, Landyn always has a smile. She lights up any room."

Prepare to pitch: To get ready for the pitch, Landyn says she has been throwing the ball around with her dad.

The pitch will also celebrate the Groves' association with the Casey Foundation, a Maryland nonprofit that provides support to families with critically ill children.

As Landyn grows, she will continue to battle different medical issues, her dad said.

"We take it one day at a time," he said. "That's all we can do."

For now, Landyn is preparing to go into first grade, and she's losing most of her top teeth.

Her last tooth got $2 from the tooth fairy, which Dave joked is just too much money.

He said they've worked endlessly to ensure their daughter lives a normal life.

"We want her to be whatever she wants to be," he said.

For now, she's an aspiring cheerleader who knows all her team's routines by heart.

"One, two, three, four," she said, kicking and twirling about in her wheelchair.

— Reach Sara Blumberg at sblumberg@yorkdispatch.com.