Going to the little League World Series as members of Lufkin's "Thundering 13" was a dream come true for Kolby Kovar and Chip Buchanan. That dream was tarnished last month when some of the limited edition gear the boys received on their trip was stolen.
On Wednesday the two boys were surprised. Kovar and his mother Stephanie thought they were going to the Lufkin Parks and Recreation building in downtown to answer some questions about the trip for a research paper being done by a city employee. Instead, they learned of new gear being provided for them by Little League International.
"I was I told that I was going to talk to Mr. Matt and just kind of explain the World Series or maybe what happened and how I felt about it, Kovar said. "Like an interview but not on camera. I came inside and saw a bag in the helmet and was just speechless."
In October, Kovar was getting ready to go to a middle school baseball game, yesterday morning, when his mom discovered that his World Series backpack, with his cleats and batting gloves, had been stolen from their car. Buchanan's batting helmet was also stolen from the car. When the Lufkin All-Stars went to Williamsport, PA as the representative for the Southwest region, Little League provided the players with brand new gear. The gear changes each year so the players truly do have on-of-a-king jerseys, hats and helmets.
"For Kolby, I knew this was something he was really upset he wasn't going to have so when I saw this on the table just took my breath away,"Stephanie Kovar said.
After Kovar was able to take in what had happened, his mom took him to Buchanan's house where his helmet was delivered to him.
"I was really bummed that my helmet was stolen," Buchanan said. "When I saw that Little League had replaced it, I was so surprised and excited. It felt like Christmas morning!"
Parks employee Matthew Hubert had been in contact with Little League about the stolen gear and he said after a few phone calls and conversations Little League was able to take car of the issue and they shipped a new bag and helmet to the city office for the boys.
"I get asked almost daily if we have gotten our stolen gear back, and it means a lot to us that so many people care," Heather Buchanan said. "We are so grateful to the city and to Little League for replacing something so priceless. It is something Chip will always treasure."
Manager Bud Maddux could not have been more proud of the officials at Little League.
"That is special,"Maddux said. "Not many people would do that but they came through and that's something that Kolby and Chip would remember. Hopefully he will have it the rest of his life and take care of it."