Brad passed away in August 2018, aged 24 after fighting a neuromuscular condition called Friedreich’s Ataxia, a very rare disease here in NZ. Youngest child of Barb & Lance Croawell (Life Members) of Howick Softball Club, it had been a tough many years watching Brad progress from a healthy young active little boy to being disabled and in a wheelchair since he was 16. Brad endured a tough life with many trips to hospital, surgeries and more, but his spirit was always totally positive and he had a fantastic sense of humour and took everything in his stride.
It is ironic that the Bev Smith Memorial and Brad Croawell Memorial Tournaments are now being run in conjunction with one other. Both the Smith & Croawell Families are very close, the children have grown up together and all have been heavily involved with the Howick Softball Club for many many years.
Brad played softball from a young age right up to Under 14’s when due to his disease he could not play any longer. A highlight of his softball playing days was being in the team with Campbell Gibson, Stuart Reynolds and Regan O’Neill who won the Auckland 14’s Championship, coached by our amazing Ian Gibson. What a great way to finish playing, although, such a shame he could not continue.
He is so very much missed by his entire family but we know that both he and Bev will be looking down on all of each year at their tournaments and will be celebrating up there some where. Bev loved Brad as he did her, so together they are once again , albeit in a different place.
Friedreich’s Ataxia is a terrible disease that robs people of their physical abilities. It does not affect people mentally but they become trapped in their own body as everything deteriorates and progresses as time goes on. Currently, Barb still remains on the Board of FARA NZ and we are hoping to make progress with our fundraising towards finding a cure. We thank all of you for making donations and supporting this worthy cause. Brad’s favorite colour was Green, hence the green theme in his tournament.
Unfortunately this season's tournament was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. We hope to return next year to bring a bigger and better tournament to raise awareness for Brad and Friedereich's Ataxia.