Rays pitcher helps teen get adopted

- Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer had no idea when he met a Bay Area teen last year at spring training he would help change the boy's life forever.

"It's a perfect example of you never know what your impact's going to be on somebody as long as you're yourself," said Archer, who was reunited with the quiet 15-year-old named Zach Sunday.

Their first meeting, which was captured on video and posted on the Heart Gallery Pinellas-Pasco website, helped lead to Zach's adoption. Archer, who was adopted as a child, opened up to the foster teen, sharing his own experience and perhaps, offering some pivotal advice.

"Zachary was kind of on the fence about adoption and Chris Archer and the other people involved really helped change his mind," said Hana Cowart, outreach manager with the Heart Gallery.

The Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco works to increase the number of successful adoptions of local kids in foster care. When the group learned what an avid sports fan Zach is, they reached out to the Rays to help set up a day for him to meet a few players at spring training.

Meanwhile in Niceville, Mark and Terri Schreffler had nearly given up on their hopes of adopting when they saw a story about Zach's day with the Rays pitcher on the Heart Gallery website. Seeing Zach, the Schrefflers say they just knew he was meant to be a part of their family.

"It was just the right place in life for us and we thought that we could share what we've learned in life and help him grow," said Mark Schreffler.

The Schrefflers reached out to meet Zach and the three hit it off immediately. Just before the start of the school year, Zach moved to Niceville and into the Schrefflers' home.

"Zach's been with us for six months and we've really grown to know him and love him there in the house and we really would miss him if he wasn't there," said Schreffler. "Now it's just about making that final step and saying we are committed to him."

Zach and new parents Terri and Mark made things official Monday when the teen was adopted by the retired Air Force veterans in Clearwater.

In Port Charlotte, where the Rays are gearing up for the new season, Archer was thrilled to hear his single day with a teen had made such a difference.

"To have it come back around full circle now, it just reiterates: Be yourself and share your experiences, your truth," added Archer. "Some people look at adoption as a negative thing but if you find the right parents, it's a perfect thing. It's an awesome thing and I can speak to that because I was adopted as well."

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