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Rays’ Brandon and Madison Lowe helping others with infertility issues

ST. PETERSBURG — Through nearly three years of frustration, pain and heartbreak from fertility problems, Madison and Brandon Lowe knew they, in a way, were the fortunate ones.

Because Brandon made millions playing for the Rays, they were able to explore and pursue all available options to have the baby they had decided in January 2020 they so badly wanted.

They could keep trying after two miscarriages, three failed intrauterine inseminations, an unsuccessful in vitro fertilization transfer — and myriad tears.

And eventually there would be joy, as a second IVF transfer worked and in January 2023 they became the proudest parents of 8-pound, 3-ounce Emmett Dean. (The Lowes announced Monday they soon will have a baby girl as well.)

Now, Madison and Brandon are working to help others with their own infertility issues, launching a multitiered program to raise money for Baby Quest Foundation, which provides grants for people to cover the high costs of a variety of treatments, which can exceed $10,000 each.

“Very fortunately, with Brandon’s job, we can afford fertility treatments. But they were very expensive. I mean, we would pay that a million times to have Emmett. But we know that that was a luxury,” Madison said.

“We don’t want other people not to be able to have a family just because of that cost that is associated with fertility treatments.”

In deciding to help raise funds and awareness for Baby Quest — which estimates infertility affects one in eight women — the Lowes had to first be sure they wanted to go public with their story.

Then they realized that was exactly the kind of help they had needed.

“The way that we looked at it is how on an island, I guess, that we felt when we were going through it the first time,” Brandon said. “The struggles, the uncertainty of it all, everything just kind of compiles on you. I think both of us truly believed we were the only people this is happening to.

“When it happens, one, you don’t talk about it. Two, it’s like other people don’t talk about it. It’s one of those things where you don’t know who’s actually gone through it.”

What helped them cope, Brandon said, was Rays teammates at the time sharing their own stories.

“They were very open about it with us,” he said. “When they heard, they let us know and kind of talked with us and were there for us going through it.”

Now, the Lowes want to pay that forward on a larger scale, providing a point of reference, if not a beacon, for others dealing with similar issues.

“We just thought it was really important that if we share, more people will share their story and feel less alone in that struggle,” Madison said. “So, we just have always known that we really wanted to — whether it was something hard to talk about, and there have been some tears in interviews — but we knew that that was just so much more important to give people a community or somebody else that they can connect to. And not just feel so alone in their struggles.”

The Lowes are working to help in several ways:

• They helped design a T-shirt with the slogan, “Strength in Struggle,” that is being sold by the Tiny Turnip apparel company, with proceeds going to Baby Quest.

“Everyone has a different path to a child and to a family,” Madison explained. “And that there is some strength in those struggles, that in those trials, that at the end of the day when you look back on everything, you’re definitely stronger for that path.”

• They have enlisted players on other teams, some of whom have had their own experiences with infertility, to serve as ambassadors and spread the word.

Royals pitcher Michael Wacha, one of several ex-Rays involved (joining Jake Diekman, Corey Kluber, Hunter Renfroe and Eric Sogard), said it was an easy yes.

“I know a lot of my friends and family members that have had trouble on that end of it, have also lost children as well and know how sad and how much that is a struggle for families that are going through those things,” Wacha said.

“So, any way that we could support, we were all in on that. … There’s a lot of people that keep that private. But with (Brandon’s) stage and platform, he can reach a lot of people, bring hope and kind of give people kind of a positive outlook that, ‘Hey, things can turn around and get better.’”

• They are collecting memorabilia from players and teams across the majors for an online auction that will go live on Saturday to coincide with the start of World Infertility Awareness Month. The auction also will benefit Baby Quest, which says it has awarded $3 million through 250-plus grants and led to 165-plus babies being born.

“When we found this organization, we just really wanted to work with them and knew that our money was going towards people directly and not like some organizations where it’s just kind of towards, like, a general group,” Madison said. “It’s like we have a connection with the people that are getting the grant. So, we think that was really special.”

Actually, they already have a connection.

When Brandon was chosen the Rays’ 2022 nominee for Major League Baseball’s prestigious Roberto Clemente Award that honors players based on community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions on and off the field, they donated the $7,500 grant to Baby Quest.

That money helped pay for an IVF treatment that worked. The Lowes ended up exchanging emails with the parents, who kept them updated through the pregnancy and then with baby pictures. Madison said they still keep in touch, and “we’re hoping to eventually have them out to a game, which would be really cool.”

Adding that experience to their own convinced the Lowes to help others.

“We just thought that was really special that we knew we had a part in that family’s being able to have a child,” Madison said. “So, we knew we wanted to do more.”

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