Little League Hit-A-Thon aims to strike out disease
June 27, 2013
A team of Fort Belvoir Little League baseball players raised money to combat a childhood vertebral disease known as Spondylarthritis by hosting a Hit-A-Thon Saturday at McNaughton Field Complex in Alexandria, Va.
The event -- conceived and organized by Regan Sinclair, a 13 year-old pitcher and first baseman on the Belvoir Rangers Major-division Little League team, who has lived with the painful condition since the age of four --raised more than $4,000 for the Spondylitis Association of America.
Spondylarthritis, which is included in a family of vertebral conditions collectively known as Spondylitis, affects the sacroiliac joints between the pelvis and the spine, as well as the joints along the spine. It can also affect knees, ankles, toes, hips, shoulders and ribs. The condition accounts for about 20 percent of all childhood arthritis cases and its symptoms include pain and tenderness due to inflammation in the ligaments and tendons where they attach to the bone.
Regan was diagnosed with Spondylarthritis in 2011 but suffered its discomforts for years prior to his diagnosis. He receives a shot every five days, takes oral medications and engages in regular physical therapy to help him cope with the condition.
Regan and 13 fellow players from Belvoir's Little League put together the event in order to raise awareness of Spondylitis and help find a cure.
Each player stepped into the batter's box in turn and was judged on the combined distance five fair balls travelled from home plate. Regan's dad, Phillip Sinclair, provided the pitches, and volunteer parents, Don DiFatta, Chris Newlin and Jason Bender, manned the measuring tapes in the outfield and recorded the results.
The Hit-A-Thon provided sponsors with opportunities to offer a fixed donation through an online outlet or to offer "pledge-per-foot" contributions for which the sponsor matched the total distance the player hit the ball in five at-bats with percentages of one dollar, per foot. For example, if a sponsor pledged to donate 50 cents per foot and a batter hit for 100 feet in five fair hits, the sponsor would contribute $50 to the fundraiser.
Charlie Bender hit for the greatest distance of the day, turning in 282 feet and earning $239.20. Jordan Bozeman came in second with 279 feet that brought in $50 and Peter Buschman hit for a total of 279 feet which earned the charity $200. Together the 14 players slugged for enough footage to earn $4,087.80 for the Spondylitis Association, a result which exceeded Regan's expectations.
"Our goal was $2,000 and we raised $4,087.80. I want to thank everyone who came out for this. This really means a lot to me and my whole Family," he said. "We did this for a travel team once and it worked out pretty well so I wanted to do it at Belvoir -- anything I can do to raise some money for a cure and for treatment."
Juan Baret, owner of Baret Custom Bats by Baret Sports, presented Bender with a custom-made bat for his top finish.
Virginia District 9 Little League also recognized Regan Sinclair's commitment to athletic excellence and teamwork by selecting him to play in the 2013 Major Division All-Star tournament for his stellar performances on the ball diamond during the regular season.
For more information regarding the Fort Belvoir Little League and the All-Star tournament, contact Bill Behring, league commissioner, at firstname.lastname@example.org.