Celebrity Hawkeyes, Cyclones are all on Ashlyn’s team
HUMBOLDT — Joe Woodley looked up to Derrik Clark when he was a linebacker at Iowa State — so much so that he wanted to wear No. 11 to honor Clark when he played linebacker in Ames.
“Derrik (the father of Ashlyn Clark) was my idol, that’s why I wanted to wear No. 11, but my dad (Mike Woodley) who was assigning the jerseys wouldn’t give it to me because a kicker had it,” Woodley said. “(Thursday in Humboldt) was just about Iowa people being Iowa people and supporting Ashlyn (Clark).
“With Dan and Dallas (Clark), this obviously is a great family that is going through the toughest time. This is not fair for a young girl to go through, but my thoughts and prayers are with her.”
Woodley was one of nine former Iowa State players who took part in the celebrity softball game on the Humboldt softball diamond to support Ashlyn’s Night at the Ballpark.
Over 3,000 people shared their support for Clark, who is battling Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
There were a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy, including a dunk tank featuring Humboldt Wildcat coaches, a home run derby, a bouncy house, radar-gun pitching, t-shirt sales, and much more.
A free-will donation dinner was also available.
The Iowa and Iowa State players arrived and held an autograph session for the fans. The Hawkeyes won the celebrity slow-pitch contest, 6-3.
Ashlyn Clark, who was the honoree, threw out the first pitch to her head coach, Doug VanPelt.
“It was so much fun. To be able to throw the first pitch was awesome,” Ashlyn said. “Our relationship has grown so much … (VanPelt) is like a second father to me.”
Humboldt native Bruce Reimers, who is in the ISU Hall of Fame and former NFL player, was happy to see his hometown come together in such an inspiring way.
“This is for a young woman who had the shock of her life after hearing that dreaded word (cancer),” Reimers said.
Joining Woodley and Reimers on the ISU squad was Josh Lenz, Joel Lanning, Brent Curvey, Greg Schoon, Preston Rhamy, Ben Bruns and Humboldt graduate Ryan Harklau, who was ISU’s team captain in 1999 and 2000.
Lanning, who is the cousin of Humboldt assistant softball coach Erica Post, was happy to participate.
“This was a great event,” Lanning said. “Anything you can do to help her get through the battles and show support is what we’re all here for.”
Ashlyn’s uncles, Dallas and Dan Clark, suited up on the Hawkeye side. Dan was an assistant at Iowa, and Dallas, was a first team All-American in 2002 and Super Bowl champion with Indianapolis.
“Only in small-town Iowa are you going to pull together an event like this,” Dallas said. “She is a beautiful girl, and this night is something special for her.”
The Hawkeye squad also featured two Humboldt graduates. Current Iowa fullback Brady Ross coached the Hawks on the softball field and was next to Wildcat alum Tyler Nielsen, who was a 2011 team captain for Iowa.
“When someone is facing adversity, it is nice to give back,” Nielsen said. “Humboldt has a lot of pride, and this was a good opportunity for these guys to come out and show that.”
Other Hawkeyes on the field were Ed Hinkel, Greg Brunner, Kyle McCann and Jared DeVries. Emmetsburg graduate Bruce Nelson, who is the brother of current Humboldt resident Traci Holm and was a 2002 first team All-American.
“It’s a privilege to have a connection with the Clark family,” Nelson said. “Anyone sitting here would do the same for one of our family members.”
Iowa State’s Brent Curvey, a first team All Big 12 player in 2005, was honored to support the family.
“It’s always good to support people in your football family,” Curvey said. “I’m honored to be her and support her (Ashlyn).”
Abbey Harklau, who was one of the main event organizers, watched as a fundraiser turn into so much more.
“It started out as means to provide money for the family for medical expenses,” Harklau said. “But the money part turned into love. I didn’t have to solicit one person for a donation.
“We are thankful that we can make things a little easier for Ashlyn.”