The following article ran in The Kane County Chronicle, 8/2/15. To view click here

Geneva Baseball Association, Marklund team up for memorable fundraiser

Gerry Schermerhorn didn’t volunteer to coach a baseball team only to teach kids how to play baseball. He wanted the kids to learn far more than how to hit the cutoff man, execute a sacrifice bunt and be good sports.

“I want to teach the boys lessons in the life that they’ll remember forever,” he said. “That’s one of the main reasons why we worked so hard on the fundraiser.”

Schermerhorn and his pony league Padres raised $545, the most of any team in the Geneva Baseball Association, which raised $4,175 collectively for Marklund.

Located on the border of Geneva and Batavia, Marklund provides compassionate care to individuals, most with severe cognitive deficits that require 24-hour skilled nursing care.

Under the leadership of Schermerhorn, the Padres played a scrimmage Wiffle ball game against Marklund on Saturday as a reward for their generous fundraising effort.

“The kids and their families really got into raising money for Marklund,” Schermerhorn said. “I fundraised hard to win this and reminded the boys every week to ask people to give.”

With a daughter who is a special needs teacher, Schermerhorn related easily to Marklund’s cause.

“It’s a passion we have in my family,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate in my family to not have any kids with any handicaps and I’ve always taught kids to respect everyone. We solicited hard to raise funds and I’m really proud of the kids and their families for giving such great support.”

Geneva Baseball Association board member Dan Hanlon came up with the idea of helping Marklund via a monetary-only fundraiser. He was a coaching a youth football team last fall, which played a scrimmage against the Marklund residents. He saw their baseball field, recognized the financial need Marklund fights for every day, and devised a plan to raise money for Marklund while rewarding players with a chance to play Wiffle ball for their efforts.

“It was really easy for us to set up a donation page for every team and we kept it so simple with only monetary donations,” Hanlon said. “It was a great way for the kids to learn about supporting a great charity and really was a good marriage for both non-profit organizations.”

Marklund is always in need of support and the thousands raised by the Geneva Baseball Association will certainly help while hopefully open up the doors for future fundraising efforts.

“This was a completely new type of fundraiser and we hope it leads to similar efforts,” said Stephanie Heinz, development coordinator at Marklund. “The state doesn’t fund everything and the level of care we provide is substantial. Fundraisers like this help us fill in some of the gaps while also giving these kids a unique opportunity to play baseball as well.

Saturday’s itinerary was a busy one at Marklund, with the top-fundraising teams in the major, minor, mustang, rookie, pioneer and pony leages all getting opportunities to play on the field for 45 minutes each.

“It was a lot of fun to get to play here with all my friends,” said 11-year-old Logan Mourek of the majors league. “This would be an awesome field to have in your backyard. I had a lot of fun.”

After shaking hands after playing, 10-year-old Matthew Mikec was all smiles.

“This was so much fun,” he said. “It wasn’t too competitive and just a lot of fun playing with a lot of guys I know. I wish we could keep on playing.”

The pony league Padres played the Marklund residents at 3:45 p.m. before wrapping up the event with their game against the Cardinals at 4:15.

“Things went awesome,” Schermerhorn said. “We had a great turnout and everybody was engaged in it. To see the parents help out and push the wheelchairs and to see the residents really get into the game was really something special. It was nothing but love and everyone had a lot of fun. It’s the kind of thing that we hope to be able to do again.”

You can’t beat fun at the ballpark, especially when your team turns two. It certainly looks like the Geneva Baseball Association and Marklund have quickly become quite the double play combo.