The Astros’ game plan was simple: travel to Uvalde with hopes of putting smiles on the faces of community members who haven’t had much to grin about since May 24.
“We’re in the fix-it business. We want to help,” Paula Harris, executive director of the Astros Foundation, said. “There’s nothing we can do besides what we do, and that’s to give out a little joy and introduce kids to baseball.”
Local media asked the owner of the Astros, Jim Crane, about the personal impact of visiting Robb Elementary, the site of the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.
“It’s hard not to cry. It isn’t easy to see that. You’ve got little kids. It’s tough,” Crane said.
The Astros then hosted a private brunch at the Civic Center in Uvalde. Among the attendees were the families of the victims. Outside the doors, cameras captured numerous hugs and long embraces, some involving people wearing shirts featuring photos of the loved ones they lost inside Robb Elementary.
During this event, families received Astros jerseys autographed by players and coaches. The jerseys display the last name and age of their late child.
“It was painful. It was powerful,” Harris said of the private brunch with families of the victims. “People brought pictures of their babies and their moms. People were definitely crying, but we did see some smiles.”
Uvalde Little League President J.J. Suarez was in attendance for the event.
“It was very emotional,” Suarez said. “Even though it’s been more than a month, we still feel the pain. We don’t have the same pain they have, because it wasn’t our kids, but knowing what they’re going through, we’re just trying to understand.”
June Ybarra was not at the Astros brunch, but he is connected to the Robb Elementary School victims. Ybarra works as an assistant funeral director at Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary, a local funeral home in Uvalde. Ybarra helped bury 17 bodies.
“I’m still broken myself,” Ybarra shared. “There are no words. Since May 24, I’ve been crying every day. Every day. I feel so bad for these families.”
Last week, Ybarra, citing his mental health, needed to get away from Uvalde and attended the Yankees vs. Astros game in Houston.
“But having the Astros here today is amazing,” June added. “A lot of these kids in attendance at the Astros event here in the Park went to Robb Elementary. So to see the smiles on their faces for a moment brings me joy. It does the same for me.”
In addition to Friday’s community events in Uvalde and the jersey presentations, the Astros will host families of the victims for a home game on August 14 against the Oakland Athletics.