Have a Ball raising money for kids with MD
A week “better than Christmas” is how one girl describes her experience at Camp Milton, according to Tyler Hannsz, director of logistics and marketing for NAI. Camp Milton is an annual camp hosted by NAI for kids and young adults with neuromuscular diseases. It’s a week where anything is possible and where lifelong camp families are born. Camp Milton, prior to 2018, was run by MDA, a national nonprofit organization, at Tall Oaks Conference Center just outside Linwood, Kan. In February of 2018, it was announced that MDA was closing the camp, eliminating this “better than Disney World” experience for youth ages 6 to 17 in Topeka and Northeast Kansas. Thankfully Hannsz and a group of local volunteers took action, raising $20,000 via a GoFundMe campaign and starting Neuromuscular Access Initiative, NAI, the nonprofit which now runs Camp Milton.
40 YEARS OF HOG BALL
When Hog Ball participants and leaders learned of the departure of MD and change with Camp Milton, they immediately shifted their donations to NAI. “We know exactly where our money is going, and we get to see the happy faces here at camp, and it’s worth every bit of effort,” said Sandy Becker, Camp Milton counselor and longtime member of Hog Ball, WIBW Interview SEPT 01, 2018.
Hog Ball is an annual softball tournament where eight to 10 teams compete on the field and philanthropically, aiming for the coveted honor of raising the most donations throughout the year for kids with neuromuscular diseases. The money raised specifically provides funding for area youth to attend summer camp for free. We’re “just a local group of folks who spend the year fundraising so we can send kids from N.E. Kansas who suffer from neuromuscular diseases to a very special week long summer camp every year,” states Hog Ball’s Facebook page.
This year’s tournament takes place the weekend of August 16 at the Joe Campbell Stadium in Rossville, Kan. On Sunday, August 18 a check presentation will occur on the pitching mound, where Hog Ball will present NAI leaders with the cumulative funds raised by all teams. Historically, this equates to approximately $35,000 each year. In addition to the check presentation and games are informational booths, food trucks and family fun. The public is invited to attend. This is the 40th Annual Hog Ball Softball Tournament. Rossville has hosted the tournament for the past six years.
PUT ME IN, COACH!
Vying for first place is the Brass Rail Tavern Hog Ball Team, sponsored by Brass Rail Tavern, located in Oakland. Ignited by friendly competition and the underlying mission, Brass Rail Tavern owner Emil Spaeth and teammates Brad Mosbrucker and Bobby Rolin are working tirelessly to raise $10,000; an amount which they believe will win them first place at the 2019 Hog Ball. In order to reach this goal, the team is hosting an epic Kickball Tournament on Sunday, July 14 at Felker Park. 12-person teams, of all ages, are encouraged to sign-up and compete in the double elimination tournament. The cost is $150 per team. 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to Neuromuscular Access Initiative. Teams must register by July 9 and may do so at the Brass Rail Tavern or on their Facebook event page: Kick Ball for MD Kids Camp.
The goal is to have 40 teams participate in the Kickball Tournament, which will bring Brass Rail Tavern Team $6,000 closer to their fundraising goal. To date, 20 teams have signed up ranging from BNSF employees to organizations like Capital City Ladies to businesses such as K’n’Js and sponsors Capital City Flooring and Edwards Liquor.
Brad and Bobby are leading the Kickball Tournament and its aggressive fundraising initiative. Neither have necessarily been impacted by neuromuscular diseases, personally or within their family. Neither are fundraising professionals or work for NAI. But when asked “why” they both simply expressed gratitude for the opportunity to give back to their community and kids. “It makes my heart feel good. Doing what is right for those kids,” said Brad.
“It is a great feeling to know that you are helping a kid experience one of their greatest life moments. Having this local camp experience is important to these youth and our community,” said Bobby.
Together, they smiled and showed me pictures of kids whom they’ve helped and met over the years thanks to their involvement with Hog Ball.
“Once you see all the smiles on these kids faces, you know the ‘why.’ It’s the game changer.”