Hard Facts: Community continues to show generosity

July 23, 2008 03:17 pm

It’s amazing to see how much generosity is welled up in this valley.

Year after year, sponsors and individuals give donations to ensure Union and Wallowa County athletes have a chance to compete at the state’s highest level.

With the Little League and Babe Ruth State Tournaments wrapping up this past weekend, coaches shared firsthand the gratitude for businesses and people willing to open their wallets.

Undoubtedly this column would be doing an injustice by not including parents into the equation.

Growing up playing for a select baseball team in the Northwest I saw this experience in my own home.

Trips to Arizona and Chicago aren’t free. Although when you’re a kid, they feel like it.

Playing on a select or all-star team comes with a price tag of its own. But throwing in tournaments leaves parents ailing from withdrawal — from their own bank accounts.

One family’s recent all-star experience total hit $1,500 and continues to grow as receipts get tallied.

Mix that between the 12  families and it’s a pretty hefty price tag.

That’s where the community comes into play.

Thirty-two businesses emerged in the course of a week for the La Grande 9/10-year-old All-Star team.

Simple stunning.

What makes this story even more unbelievable are the financial strains many businesses and people are feeling.

Despite the price of everything rising, the generosity keeps coming. It’s people helping people that keeps these small communities going.

There’s another group that needs to be mentioned — umpires.

During the softball and baseball tournaments umpires remained the unsung heroes in the 90-degree heat.

One umpire I talked to worked 14 games in the span of four days for free.

Well, they did get water. And don’t forget the screaming parents.

Still, they stood out in the heat for the kids.

Last but not least the coaches need a little recognition. They donate everything they have — personal time, vacation and sick leave. Not to mention a little coaching.

Not all of them are perfect coaches. However, all of them put the kids first.

Athletes’ summer dreams are fueled by all these people giving what they have — time, money and knowledge.

As the summer comes to a close it’s time to remember these people, and the sacrifices they made.

All for the kids.