The Field of Dreams game will be a bittersweet moment for this Iowa couple

Brice VanDrimmelen was cycling home from his job at the Ankeny Police Department when an email appeared on his phone.

He could only see a short description of the notification, but he remembers saying something like “Congratulations!”

“You get so many emails saying you won something or whatever, and I thought it was a scam,” VanDrimmelen said. “I didn’t even look at it. I just deleted it.

VanDrimmelen knew there was a lottery to buy Field of Dreams tickets, but he was unaware that his wife, Alishia, had seized both of their emails. Even after arriving at their home in Granger and seeing people on Facebook saying they hadn’t won the lottery, it didn’t seem like the email he received earlier wasn’t maybe not a scam after all.

But then Alishia texted him putting their daughter to sleep.

“She asked me if I had received an email,” Brice said. “We almost completely missed out.”

The VanDrimmelen family attends an Iowa Cubs baseball game in Des Moines.

After a brief delay trying to log into their account, Brice and Alishia secured tickets along the third base line at the Field of Dreams stadium in Dyersville, Iowa, to see one of their favorite teams, the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs are something the pair bonded over. They made their first trip together to Chicago for a game.

They thwarted the odds by securing a pair of very limited tickets to this year’s Field of Dreams game. But winning the lottery isn’t the only incredible part of Brice and Alishia’s story.

It will be an even more special night for Alishia, who will see the vision of a friend she has never met come to life.

After:‘These guys are magicians’: Meet the brothers behind the corn on the ‘Field of Dreams’ site

A journey of fate in Chicago

Alishia originally didn’t want to hook up with Brice. They were both in the Iowa National Guard, and when Brice appeared in Alishia’s “people you may know” section on Facebook, she added him, thinking Brice was another officer. from a unit she had worked with that summer.

At least that’s Alishia’s side of the story.

“He doesn’t believe me,” Alishia said. “He had a hat and sunglasses on his profile, so I only realized that after I messaged him. He thinks I just added him because he’s so handsome. And, of course, he is.

While their connection was an accident, Alishia and Brice realized they had more in common than they thought.

They both did CrossFit, but at different gyms.

They were both in the national guard.

Both were divorced with children.

And both loved baseball.

After:The couple had big plans for the “Field of Dreams” movie site. They are blown away as others succeed

Fairly early in their relationship, Alishia and Brice took a trip to Chicago to watch the Cubs play. While Alishia did a lot of the planning, it wasn’t the gambling or the Chicago-style pizza that stood out to Brice the most.

Alishia and Brice VanDrimmelen on their first trip together, to Chicago for a Cubs baseball game.

“I was relying on her to find our Airbnb and food and stuff like that,” Brice said. “One of the things I remember the most is that for five hours on the road, we had about five hours of actual conversation.”

Since that trip, Alishia and Brice have merged their families and married in December 2021. Baseball games are still a part of their lives, with family trips to Iowa Cubs games over the summer. And it was one of the ways the couple thought of celebrating their first wedding anniversary.

With the Chicago Cubs playing in this year’s Field of Dreams game Thursday in Iowa against the Cincinnati Reds, it was an opportunity not to be missed – even if it meant celebrating their anniversary a few months early.

For Alishia, there were other reasons not to miss this year’s game in Dyersville.

A connection to the site of the film “Field of Dreams”

In 2016, Alishia was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, or EHE, which grows from the cells that make up blood vessels. Although the actual number of people with EHE may be higher, only one in 1 million people are diagnosed with this cancer worldwide, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Alishia learned that she was the first person diagnosed with EHE in Des Moines.

She went looking for others who shared her experience to connect with. Alishia joined a Facebook group open to people with EHE and their loved ones. It was there that she met the only other person in the Iowa group: Denise Miarecki Stillman, then the owner of the “Field of Dreams” movie ballpark and surrounding land.

Alishia and Stillman’s timelines with EHE were similar. Both women had liver tumors, as well as spots in the lungs. Alishia underwent surgery to remove part of her liver, but ultimately needed a full transplant.

It turns out that when the couple hooked up, Stillman had just undergone his own liver transplant.

Go The Distance Baseball CEO Denise Stillman is recognized before a celebrity game at the

“She walked me through it and gave me tips on what to expect with recovery,” Alishia said. “And she was a mom, too. At the time, I only had my two boys, so we connected on that. It was just me and her in Iowa going through this rare journey, trying to understand what was expected.

After:How the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs will travel to Iowa for this year’s Field of Dreams game

Alishia said a lot of their conversations were about balancing life with a cancer diagnosis and being working moms on top of that. Baseball was also a source of conversation.

“We were getting to know each other,” Alishia said. “I told her what I did for a living and then she told me she actually owned Field of Dreams. I played softball in college, and baseball and softball have always been a big part of my life. So we talked about it a bit. »

It was a connection that Alishia appreciated, especially when she was undergoing various treatments for her cancer. But Stillman died in 2018 from cancer, and the couple never got to meet in person.

“I was waiting for my liver transplant when we hooked up,” said Alishia, who is in remission. “I had to stay relatively close while waiting for my transplant, and she was recovering from the transplant, so she couldn’t travel far either. I think that’s one of the hardest things because we’ve never met in person.

“We connected and talked so much, and she really helped walk me through everything, but we never got to meet, and then she ended up passing away. There’s a memorial at Field of Dreams for her, and so that’s the only way for me to be at peace with that.

Stillman and a group of investors purchased the “Field of Dreams” movie ground and farm from the Lansing family in 2011, with the intention of creating a destination for baseball fans and youth tournaments. She approached Major League Baseball in 2015 to build a stadium on the field. The project was put on hold and Stillman died before seeing her dream come true.

While the VanDrimmelens’ trip to Dyersville is primarily a celebration of their love, it will be bittersweet for Alishia. She’ll see her favorite MLB team play at the Field of Dreams in person and find out how her friend’s vision came to fruition.

After:The Cincinnati Reds are connected to the Field of Dreams thanks to the 1919 World Series

I’m looking forward to Thursday

The two years have been busy in the VanDrimmelen house.

Alishia and Brice recently had a daughter together, and Brice is back from a relatively recent deployment. Alishia is finishing her MBA and Brice is finishing his baccalaureate. Brice participated in his first RAGBRAI this summer.

Alishia and Brice VanDrimmelen with their four children.

So seeing the Cubs play in the Field of Dreams game came at the perfect time.

It will be a moment for Alishia to see her friend’s dream come true, and for Brice and Alishia to attend a baseball game, just the two of them.

And then it will be the return to reality for the couple.

“It’s just one thing in the other,” Brice said. “We keep saying we’ll do all of this when things calm down. But life is never going to calm down.

Alyssa Hertel is the college athletic recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at [email protected] or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.

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