Florida bat maker puts heart, soul, and kidney into his life's work


 

Allan Gutcher is the CEO and owner of Beacon Bats, based in greater Tampa Florida. At 57 he has made it his life's mission to supply the rising stars of professional baseball with handcrafted custom designs. 

In 2020 a remarkable act of heroism and selflessness was the result of a phone call that embarked on the Florida woodworker on a new mission that quite literally manifested from within. 

Allan Gutcher was stuck at a traffic light when he noticed a car with a distinct message that read "My husband needs an O+ kidney." This message was a teal graphic that had a phone number and email address that started with "patrickskidneyhero."

The driver of this vehicle is named Patricia Nielsen. Her husband Patrick had been on dialysis for a while and was suffering through a slew of health complications stemming from a type I diabetes diagnosis. 

After years of trying to find a willing donor and blood type match, Gutcher was the man for the job. Patrick and Patty had found a hard-working hero who was driven to save a life after a close friend of his had passed away from similar complications.

The original surgery was expected to take place in April. The Nielsens were hit with the careening fastball that forever changed our world, known as COVID-19. 

Years of home dialysis and prayer from the Nielsen family would give way to 2 more grueling months as the pandemic loomed over the healthcare system. Non-life threatening surgeries were rescheduled and the suspense couldn't have been greater for a couple that had worked so hard to find a match.

Finally, in May the procedure was completed. Both men healed nicely and although Patrick Nielsen is on a heavy regimen of anti-rejection medication he is grateful for getting off dialysis.

Allan Gutcher and Patrick Nielsen had swapped "spare parts." In a picture from the Tampa Bay Times, they adorn t-shirts that joke about having/giving up a "spare."

Allan Gutcher started Beacon Bats in 2014 as a way to utilize his woodwork skills from his shop in west-central Florida. His devotion to hard work and helping people, took on new meaning when he gave his kidney to a complete stranger.

Even in the times of a pandemic, we can always go an extra step to help someone less fortunate than ourselves. There will always be someone who needs your help to thrive. 

For this batmaker in the sunbelt region, the call to action was answered. A brother-like bond was forged as Allan Gutcher gave Patrick Nielsen the ultimate gift; life.