Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, Noah Geiwitz loved hunting, fishing and playing baseball.

"By the time he was 9, he wanted to be a pitcher," his mother Heidi Emerick said.

That's around the time that Noah started working with Jason Stanford, Owner/President of the Steel Valley Expos and Stanford Baseball Academy.

"He would come, work extremely hard, wasn't the most gifted athlete as a 9-year-old per say but just had the attention span like you would want for a student of the game," Stanford said.

And wherever Noah went, he lit up the room.

"He was that kid that always had a smile on his face no matter what, good day, bad day, it didn't matter," Emerick said. "Noah was a very kind young man, no matter who you were, he talked to you, he liked you, he made friends with you, he made friends very easily."

Behind that bright smile though, lay an internal struggle for Noah, one that ultimately became unbearable.

On April 19, 2022, Noah, at the age of 17, died by suicide.

"Worst day of my life, unfortunately I was the one that found him in our house, so yeah, worst day of your life," Emerick said.

"It was the hardest thing that ever happened to me," Stanford said. "Everyday I think about him, you know, and there is not a day that goes by, not a minute that goes by that I do not think about the young man."

One week earlier, Noah quit the Reynolds High School baseball team. It wasn't until months later that his parents found out his death was likely attributed to bullying at the school and on the team.

"A lot of kids came forward and said they had witnessed it, they had seen it, they had heard it," Emerick said. "It's just sad because he was a nice kid."

In the face of heartbreak, Noah's family and Jason Stanford found strength to turn their pain into purpose.

"Something good had to come out of this tragedy," Emerick said.

"Our kids are so fragile," Stanford said. "I have three young kids that are 14, 11 and 9 and I have said as long as anybody is on my watch, I will not allow it to happen again. I will make sure that in every facet that I can possibly do, every avenue that I have, I will make sure that I never see about or hear about it again."

So what began as a simple desire to provide baseball equipment for children in the Dominican Republic, soon transformed into something much more significant.

The Noah Geiwitz Legacy Foundation is on a mission to build an athletic complex that would not only offer a safe space for athletes but also prioritize mental health support and promote an end to bullying.

"Our goal is to teach these kids that bullying is not ok," Emerick said. "Unfortunately a lot of high schools don't have that education right now and it is hard for kids, kids are mean and we want that to be a safe place where you come and like Noah, you have teammates that want to be there and they want to be friends with you and they want to support you, so we definitely want to provide education and as a team if you choose to use our facility, that education is going to be mandatory and at some point we would like to be able to offer free mental health to athletes in the area as well."

"Just knowing that we are going to be able to help so many families and so many young boys and girls continue their aspirations of being a softball player, baseball player, volleyball player but then also have them realize if they are struggling, we are there for them and we will be able to help them on all facets you know moving forward," Stanford said.

"If this stops one kid from saying something mean to another kid, then we've done our job," Emerick said.

The Noah Geiwitz Legacy Foundation is leaving no stone unturned in their mission to ensure Noah's spirit continues to touch lives. More than one year after his passing, they're preparing a special fundraising event to honor his graduation.

"We are holding Noah's graduation party and kind of turned it into a fundraiser so we are going to have a live band, Chinese auction, 50/50," Emerick said. "We already had a merchandise sale and that did pretty well so even though it is little baby steps, we are biting at it one chunk at a time."

Since Noah wanted to take baseball equipment to the Dominican Republic as his graduation gift, the family is still going to honor that and anyone who donates a gently used or new piece of equipment for the family to take in August will get a free chance to win a VIP experience with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"We have a ton of gently used items and gloves and bats that they are going to take down to the Dominican Republic and giving to the less fortunate," Stanford said. "The way that we look at it is that we are allowing and enabling other kids that want to play the game of baseball and softball the opportunity to put a helmet on, that maybe they never had before, to have a glove that maybe they never had before, a pair of baseball pants, so for us it is all about the giving motion right now and that is exactly what Noah wanted to do, he was all about giving, he was the most kind hearted, genuine type of kid that you could even want to even imagine meeting and so we are part of that legacy is going to continue that tradition of maybe doing this every year, you know, we don't know but at least for the first year."

Here are the details for the graduation party:

When: Saturday, June 3rd 1-5pm
Where: Transfer Harvest Home
117 Edgewood Drive Ext.
Transfer, PA. 16154

Tickets are $10 at the door and includes a meal. There are about 140 left as of Monday night. You can email [email protected] for more information.

There is also a special baseball clinic this Saturday, June 3, before the party. It's called Legends for Youth and is being put on by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. It will run from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Reynolds Little League Field on 1030 Rutledge Road in Transfer, PA.

It is for kids ages 6 to 16. Click here to register. They ask that kids arrive 25 minutes before the scheduled start time and bring a bag with a bat, glove, water and sneakers.

As for the athletic complex, they know it is going to take a lot of money and time, but it's something they are committed to.

"Our initial gameplan was 3-5 years to be able to acquire the land, be able to at least have the indoor facility and maybe one field, start that way," Stanford said. "Ultimately as we progress to have more fields of course, to have a pond there so kids can fish and parents can fish while they are there. Also have as part of the facility, a teaching aspect there so some classroom sessions with being able to carry this on about anti-bullying."

If you would like to donate to the foundation, you have several ways:

Venmo: @Noah-G-Legacy
Paypal: @NoahGLegacy
Checks made payable to: SBA Aces that can be mailed to P.O. Box 281 Transfer PA 16154

It's a journey of change while building a legacy that transcends the boundaries of tragedy. Through their unwavering dedication, Noah's memory will forever be etched in the hearts of those he touched with the hope of inspiring acts of kindness for generations to come.