Cailen Rundles Introduced As Newest Member of UNG Baseball Team Through Team Impact

Cailen Rundles Introduced As Newest Member of UNG Baseball Team Through Team Impact

DAHLONEGA - In front of the entire Nighthawk Nation at the 2017 Team Impact press conference Wednesday afternoon at Bob Stein Stadium, the University of North Georgia baseball team signed a familiar player with an inspiring story. Cailen Rundles, a familiar face to North Georgia athletics, became the newest member of the Nighthawks during the event, signing an official letter of intent.

On April 8, 2015, UNG head baseball coach Tom Cantrell found the perfect recruit. Cailen was inserted as a pinch runner and scored the game-winning run in a thrilling 5-4 win over rival West Florida at Bob Stein Stadium in front of an overflowing crowd of Nighthawk fans.

At that exact moment in time, Cantrell knew that Cailen needed to be a permanent member of the UNG baseball program. His warrior-like competitiveness, desire to beat all odds and willingness go to battle were characteristics that would be a perfect addition to his team.

"Cailen exemplifies exactly what we are looking for in potential student-athletes," stated Cantrell. "North Georgia baseball is extremely fortunate to have someone this is willing to go above and beyond like Cailen. His fearlessness and competiveness in athletics and, more importantly, in life is something we can all learn from."

Cailen has continued to honorably fight Chiari Malformation, a structural defect of the cerebellum. By signing on as a Team Impact member of the University of North Georgia baseball team, Cailen will continue to have a support group of Nighthawk teammates that will be by his side through this battle. 

Team Impact is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes.

Since 2011, Team Impact has matched more than 13,000 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states, reaching over 35,000 participating student-athletes.

Through the support of Team Impact, along with Cantrell and the UNG baseball team, Cailen is now an official member of the program, receiving an official team jersey, team hat and his own personalized locker in Coleman Field House.

Following his Team Impact signing, Cailen was surprised by the UNG SAAC with a truck load of nearly 100 wrapped Christmas gifts to be distributed at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House in his name. Cailen's Christmas Wish was his lone holiday request and was organized as a collection of gifts to be donated at the Santa's Workshop event on December 13. The gifts are for the families of patients at the Ronald McDonald House.

"Cailen's spirit is second to none and having him formally become a member of the Nighthawk Nation through Team Impact is truly a blessing to us all," stated UNG athletic director Lindsay Reeves. "Today is such a special day not only because of the addition of Cailen to our family, but because it was made possible by the collective efforts of our student-athletes."

Since 1979, the Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses have served more than 48,000 families with ill and injured children receiving medical care nearby. RMH is built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child - not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest. RMH's believe is that when a child is hospitalized, the love and support of family is as powerful as the strongest medicine prescribed.