My family values sports as an important part of a child’s education. My brother Larry lives in Incline Village, Nevada. His 14 year old twins recently read that the kids in the 9th Ward of New Orleans still have no little league, almost four years after Katrina hit. They decided they would like to gift their outgrown, unused, and slightly used baseball equipment to them. They wrote to the Mayor of New Orleans, who expressed his delight and the city’s interest in receiving their donations.
However, when they cleaned out their garage they discovered that in their house alone, they found this much gear:
In our garage we have about 15 soccer jerseys, 5 baseball t-shirts, 14 youth baseball caps, basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs, athletic shoes, a few soccer shorts and socks and we haven't officially started our campaign.
As we discussed their idea, the kids became aware of the shortage (and high cost) of sports equipment in the Yucatán. When they heard about kids playing soccer in their bare feet using a ball made of duct tape, Lauren and Jason decided they could probably help children in both New Orleans and the Yucatán.
And so they started their project called PROJECT MÉRIDA and engaged their entire village. They have set up collection stations all over town. Their pastor donated storage space for the gear and agreed to accept and hold monetary donations to assist in the shipping of the goods. Here in Mérida I am working with a customs agent to see if we can eliminate duties and lessen border crossing hassles.
Mérida and its surrounding villages have countless children who would appreciate a few baseballs, bats, mitts, soccer balls, and even uniforms. We wrote a letter to the Director of the Department of Deportes, the Department of Education, Cesar Bojorquez, and Governor Ivonne Ortega. Our request was accepted and stamped. Permission granted, but we are now on our own.
Engaging in sports is food for the soul. It’s necessary in a country where child obesity is rampant and rising fast. It teaches camaraderie, sportsmanship, competitiveness and gives kids something healthy to occupy their time other than playing video games. All kids should have an opportunity to play ball with their old friends while making new ones.