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Capital Region man plays catch every day for a year in honor of late son

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Playing catch is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with another person. For one local man, keeping the memory of his son alive, it’s much deeper.

Don Kirk plays catch for a special reason: to honor his late son, Jonathan.

“He was 35 when we lost him,” Don told NEWS10 during a cross between an interview and a game of catch on the front lawn of the station.

Don said Jonathan did well after his heart transplant, for about 15 months.

“We golfed,” Don recalled, “he carried his clubs once.”

But then, one day in 2017, Jonathan collapsed.

The grieving process has not been easy for Don, but deciding last August to play “Jonathan’s Catch” every day for a year, no matter the weather, has helped.

“People say they’ve seen a difference in me,” Don said.

He added that since the winter was so mild, he only had to play inside a handful of times. But he noted there were plenty of willing participants who wanted to throw the ball around in all types of weather.

Don has taken his grief and turned it into action. He’s a standout volunteer for the American Heart Association. Last year, the Kirk family honored Jonathan’s memory by donating five infant scales to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Albany Med. The Kirk family has also provided lunch to families and staff at the NICU on New Year’s Day, Jonathan’s birthday.

Saturday, Don let the NEWS10 staff play catch in Jonathan’s memory using his glove, and the ball they used to pitch and catch together. He has several baseballs signed by people who partake in Jonathan’s catch.

His favorite catching partner so far?

“Everybody. Everybody, really.”

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