‘Pass The Hat’ Benefit Planned At Decatur Baseball Game

‘Pass The Hat’ Benefit Planned At Decatur Baseball Game
Four-year-old Max Long has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY — The Stephen Decatur varsity baseball team’s game next Thursday will have a special meaning for one local kid battling leukemia and the players.

During the Seahawks’ scheduled game against Snow Hill at home next Thursday, April 12, the players are holding a fundraiser for four-year-old Max Long, a local boy who is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia and makes frequent trips to the Children’s Hospital in Washington for continued treatments. During the game, the team will “pass the hat,” encouraging fans, family and parents to make donations to help Long’s family meet the rigorous financial demands.

The “pass the hat” fundraiser is just the latest in series of community outreach projects for Decatur’s varsity baseball team. Just last year, the Seahawks held a similar fundraiser for the grandchild of Decatur head football coach Bob Knox with great success.

Decatur assistant baseball coach Tyler Riley said this week community outreach and charitable efforts are as much a part of the Decatur baseball team regimen as batting practice and fielding drills.

“We are constantly preaching and reiterating to our players how important it is to be selfless and not selfish in terms of being quality people and servants to our community,” he said. “We also like to tell them how fortunate they are to be playing baseball and not dealing with the type of hardship and adversity like Max Long and his family deal with every day.”

Decatur’s baseball team has stacked up several winning seasons in recent years along with some deep runs in the post-season. Riley said that success on the field can and has carried over to the team’s charitable efforts off the field.

“We’ve been very successful as a program and this group also had a lot of success at the Little League level,” he said. “What we try to instill in them is that in the long run, it’s not what you do on the baseball diamond that counts the most, but rather what kind of impact you can make in your community and in the lives of others.”

Riley said the Seahawks connected with Max and his family through the parents of one of the team’s players and formed an immediate bond with the young fan struggling with illness.

“We found Max and the Longs through a connection with one of our player’s parents,” he said. “They go back and forth to the Children’s Hospital in Washington and we’re trying to raise a little money to help with some of the costs of that. Their attitude is so upbeat and our guys are embracing that. That’s what we’re trying to instill in our guys, the importance of giving back to the community, and in this small way maybe we can help.”

The “pass the hat” event for Max next Thursday is just part of the Decatur baseball team’s community outreach efforts. On Wednesday, the players traveled to Ocean City Elementary to participate in a read-aloud program with young students for the second year in a row. The Seahawks also have another “pass the hat” event scheduled for their home game against Parkside on April 24 for the benefit of long-time Worcester County Public Schools custodian Paul Hudson, whose family member is battling illness.

Max’s mom Chandi Long is a personal trainer at Powerhouse Gym. She said the family hopes to attend the April 12 game against Snow Hill to be part of the fundraising effort.

“We’re good friends with the parents of a player on the team and they reached out to us with this idea to help,” she said. “Max just loves baseball and this is a way to get him out there. We’re going to try to make it to the game if we can. We’ve been back and forth to Washington 79 times since Oct. 2.”

Long said while the family welcomes the help, the event should benefit the players as much as Max.

“It’s something that needs more awareness,” she said. “For this baseball team, here’s a kid right in their community that is going through this. It gives them a personal connection to somebody they know in their own community. It’s great for the baseball team and it’s great for Max.”

Riley said if the April 12 “pass the hat” game against Snow Hill is postponed for any reason, which is certainly possible given the whacky weather in the area this spring, the fundraiser will be held whenever the game against the Eagles is made up. More information about the April 24 fundraiser game against Parkside will be provided when the details are ironed out.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.