LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Every summer, thousands of 12-year-olds descend upon Cooperstown, New York to play ball. It’s a special tournament that ballplayers look forward to for years, but many kids have missed out on the opportunity because of the pandemic.
“It’s very disappointing, because the opportunity looked amazing,” Ryder, a member of the Thousand Oaks Bulldogs, said.READ MORE: Authorities Searching For 26-Year-Old Inmate Edgar Benitez Who Walked Away From Minimum-Security Fire Camp
The Bulldogs have raised more than $8,000 over the past two years to help pay for their trip, so when it was canceled their hearts were broken and they had a decision to make.
“So it was actually a really cool thing,” Jordan, another player, said. “We all had a team party and then we had three bags that we chose for different charities, and then whatever we wanted to choose. We had a poker coin we just put it in the back and whoever had the most votes, we gave it all the money.”
The team landed on the Miracle League of the 805, a nonprofit organization looking to provide children and adults of all abilities the chance to play baseball.READ MORE: Kristine Lazar, CBS2/KCAL9 Investigative Reporter, Takes Home LA Area Emmy Saturday
“Well, our first goal is to get the field build,” Rick Pena, who founded the organization with his wife, Jodi, said. “Once the field is built, we will run a baseball league for all kids with special needs. Every kid is welcome. We say no to no kid.”
The Penas started their dream of the Miracle League about five years ago and said raising funds has been a challenge, so when the boys decided to donate their Cooperstown money, they were floored.
“It’s so touching to us, because there are kids out there who want to play baseball but can’t, because they can’t run and play or get their wheelchairs on a regular baseball field, but they still long to be a part of a team,” Jodi said. “And having these kids recognize that and wanting to give their money to this organization so that other kids can do that is so heartwarming.”MORE NEWS: Daniel Williams, 24, Arrested In Connection To Saturday Fatal Double Shooting In Downtown Long Beach
So far, the Miracle League of the 805 has raised about half of the funds it needs to build Miracle Park and they already have a waiting list of people who are eager to get out and play ball.