Los Santos province in Panama is home to at least twelve serious baseball fanatics, age 12, and their very supportive parents. On July 4, these kids are off to Orlando to compete in the Disney International Salute to Baseball at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.
The children are mainly from Guararé, one from Las Tablas, and all from the province of Los Santos. Representing Panamá and the Luis Durán Beisbol(baseball) Academy among children from all over the world, their uniforms have Panamá written on the front and a Los Santos Logo on the sleeve.
Training has been brutal. Besides practicing the game, at the beach they run and do strengthening exercises for several hours. Currently they are training 3 days a week for 2 hours. As as the tournament gets closer, training will become more intense. They will train 4 times a week and then every day until a week before the tournament when they will rest.
The tournament fee includes a three day park hopper entrance to any Disney park and two days of water parks in Orlando, a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of the children.
The estimate for the whole trip is $25,200, including tournament fees, airfare, hotel, food, visa costs and insurance. Most of the kids are from low income families; most of the parents have never before been on an airplane. Most of the kids have never traveled outside of Panama.
Several things make this an extremely worthwhile project. The spirits of both competition and team cooperation now burn strong in these kids. The fact that such a marvelous event can happen in their lives will be proof that anything is possible when life confronts them with future challenges. These boys are being given the gift of belief in themselves.
So the team and the team parents are in fund-raising mode. If you would like to help, please drop a line to one of the team moms, Gigi Cimino, via the Contact Us form on this blog. We’ll see that she gets it, and she’ll contact you.
Please note there is very little time left, as the bulk of the money must be paid by the first week in May.