Polk County man earns volunteer of the year distinction - WFLA News Channel 8

Polk County man earns volunteer of the year distinction

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POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Corey "Ralph" Cowart is Polk County's newest volunteer of the year, and he earned the distinction because of his love of baseball.

The 30-year-old spends every day during the little league season taking care of the fields at Highlands City Babe Ruth Baseball Complex.

"What Ralph does is hard to measure," explained league president Rob Wiegert.  He says without Cowart's daily raking of the clay and watering of the fields, it would be a challenge to find anyone else to do the work, especially for free.

"We'd have to rely on other volunteers and that's a tough task when you have other, the volunteers out here are mostly coaches," Wiegert said.

Cowart's brother Chad says the daily routine is pretty much the same. "Wakes up, gets dressed, gets on his bike and comes down here," he said.

The 500 youth baseball players who participate on more than 40 teams each season also know and appreciate all that Cowart does. 

His step-brother, Jordan Colegrove says the commitment extends beyond the spring and fall seasons. "When there's no baseball he comes down here anyway and waits for the next season to start," Colegrove said.

Cowart's distinction as Polk County volunteer of the year isn't the only thing that makes him special though.  He dedicates all that time to the ball fields despite having cerebral palsy, hearing loss as well as developmental delays.
 
"He's got a learning disability.  He kind of has like the mind of a 15 year old, but when it comes to sports he's very very smart about sports," Colegrove said.

Cowart is eagerly waiting for the fall little league season to begin.  In the meantime, he still comes up to the Highlands City ball fields each day just to keep an eye on things.

"It's like he's the father of the ballpark out here," Wiegert said. "He checks, and he is always on top of everything and making sure we're good to go."

 

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