What began as a 12-year-old’s do-it-yourself birthday present has become a big hit for victims of a devastating derecho storm in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
Tommy Rhomberg says he was inspired by a branch left in his yard after a powerful derecho swept across the Midwest on Aug. 10-11.
His friend Walker Biessman, who is a huge baseball fan, celebrated his birthday August 10 and Tommy wanted to make him a gift that would remind him of that special birthday.
“I just saw the perfect branch, and I wanted to make him a bat,” he told CBS affiliate KGAN.
With some help from his dad, Tommy spent about 10 hours over a 3-4 day period to create “The Great Derecho” bat.
“I thought it was super nice of him to take all that time to make me a bat for my birthday,” said Biessman.
ICYMI: Creator of "The Great Derecho" hits home run in fundraising efforts.https://t.co/3gXTyFD8LJ
— Iowa's News Now (@iowasnewsnow) October 16, 2020
The bat became such a hit on social media that people started asking where they could get one. The surprise demand gave Tommy an idea of making bats out of the wood brought down by the powerful storm and donate some of the profits to storm victims.
Two months and over one hundred sales later, he has raised about $2,500.
“Usually I go to school one day and then the next day my dad has dials for me ready to go and then I just make bats that day,” he told KGAN.
Once Tommy is done with his homework for the day, you can typically find him in the garage, at his lathe, carving wood.
Once the bat is taken off the lathe, it is a family effort to stain, stencil and ship the bat out. Tommy’s Mom, Amanda, says orders have been coming in from all over the country, from Connecticut to Arizona.