A Johnston County mom has issued a public apology to the local athletic organization here to get her late son’s sign restored over a field he once played on.
Amy Spence sent the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association’s board of directors her apology late last Friday, as well as posting it to Facebook.
The apology follows a public meeting with the GCAA, in which board members voiced frustrations with the mother’s tactics to try to get answers about the fate of a sign dedicating a field to her late son.
The sign, which read “The Brandon Spence Baseball Field,” once hung above Field 2 at the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association complex behind the old Cleveland Elementary School. Brandon was 14 when he was hit and killed by a truck while trying to cross N.C. 50 on his dirt bike in 2009.
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The family noticed the sign was missing in July and asked the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association what happened to it. They also requested it go back up.
For days, no one knew for sure what had happened to the sign. Some speculated it was removed. The GCAA says that after investigation, it was determined that the sign was destroyed in a storm in late 2014 or early 2015.
Spence said she worried when she didn’t receive a response in a timely manner and posted on Facebook asking for help in her search for answers. Many in the community rallied around the family.
Board members instead accused her of bullying by starting a social media campaign against them. Spence defended herself at the meeting, saying it was not her intention to be harmful.
The GCAA’s board gave Spence and her family three options to remedy the situation and the family chose to have sign resurrected, which included certain conditions, including apologizing to the GCAA’s board of directors.
In the letter, Spence says there were some things she wanted to respond to from the meeting that she did not get a chance to address.
She writes that Brandon was a happy child, who did well in school and loved playing baseball. He played with at GCAA until he aged out, the letter says. She writes he dreamed to play baseball for UNC-Chapel Hill.
“There is no way that we could ever put into words what effect losing Brandon has had on us physically and emotionally,” Spence writes. “We miss him more that life itself.”
She said that is the reason the family felt honored when previous GCAA members in 2009 asked them if they could name Field 2 in honor of Brandon.
“With that being said, I take full responsibility for not checking on the sign more regularly and continuing involvement with the GCAA organization,” Spence writes. “Thank you for bringing that to my attention. We want more than anything for Brandon to be remembered especially in one of his most favorite places and where he made some of his best memories.”
In the letter, she apologizes to the board for any backlash and the negative perception it caused.
“Going forward, we can see only positive matters emerging from the events of the last few weeks;” Spence wrote, “the sign will be replaced in the near future, our family and friends will be involved in the maintenance of the GCAA field as often as we like and once again Brandon will be thought of and remembered by not only the people that knew and love him but also people that are just curious about him and his life.”
Michael Knott, the GCAA board of directors president, said as a result of the apology, Spence is welcome to replace the sign when it is made.
When asked in hindsight if he thought the apology necessary, Knott said he thought it was.
“I believe so as none of this was warranted,” he wrote in an email. “All the hate email did not have to happen. She garnered support and campaigned against us well before she had answers.”
To replace the sign, the Spence family must also:
▪ Have the sign read “Brandon Spence Field,” dropping baseball from its name.
▪ Keep the sign no larger than its original size – 4 by 8 feet.
▪ Pay to restore and maintain the sign.
▪ Have the design approved by the board of directors.
▪ Have the sign go in the outfield as it was before.
▪ Coordinate with the GCAA president a yearly field workday during the beginning of each year to help maintain the field