NAUGATUCK — Fifty-two kickball players will descend on Linden Park later this month with their sights set on breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest kickball game. Breaking the record is secondary, though, to the players’ main goal of raising money and awareness for children’s cancer research.
Sean Cummings, a former Naugatuck resident and member of the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA), is organizing the game. Cummings explained each league under WAKA raises money for charity. The Naugatuck-based league Cummings is in works with Kick-It for Children’s Cancer Research, a national fundraising program that raises money for children’s cancer research by inspiring people to play kickball.
A little while back, Cummings explained, players were trying to think of a fun way to raise money when he thought of breaking the record. The idea stuck. Three weeks from now, a kickball frenzy will envelop Linden Park.
“It’s definitely taking off. People are getting excited,” Cummings said.
The players, which will be divided between two teams of 26, will kick things off at 9 a.m. on March 30. In order to break the current record for the longest game, 51 hours held by a high school in Ohio, they will have to play until noon on April 1.
“We’re probably going to be like the zombies from the Thriller video,” said Cummings about when the record would fall.
A strict set of guidelines must be followed to break the record, including all players must remain on the sidelines when they aren’t playing. Tents will be set up for players to take naps, Cummings said.
“I definitely think we’re going to break the world record,” Cummings said.
The attempt at making history has been embraced by the community.
The teams include players from area kickball leagues, nonleague members and a handful of Naugatuck firefighters have also signed on to play, Cummings said. The weekend will also feature bounce houses for children, music, food, and more activities. The Naugatuck High School cheerleaders will on hand too to cheer on the players.
“It’s definitely turning into a local community event,” Cumming said.
The game will be played in honor of two Connecticut children, Sammy Foran of West Hartford and Juliana Beloin of Wolcott, who have beaten cancer. Each team is named after one of the “Homerun Heroes.”
“We thought it was a very worthwhile cause to be selected and take part in such a great event,” said Tim Beloin, Juliana’s father.
Beloin said Juliana, who’s 5, has had to deal with a lot at a young age. Juliana had Wilms’ tumor, a kidney cancer that occurs in children. Juliana, who’s been clear of the disease for the past four and half years, had to have one of her kidneys removed, he said.
When Sammy went for his regular, four-month checkup doctors thought he had an enlarged liver, Sammy’s mother Delia Foran explained. After further testing, she said, it was discovered he had a tumor. Sammy was diagnosed with stage 1 neuroblastoma, a common cancer in infants, Delia said.
Now, Sammy, who turns 2 in May, has a clean bill of health. “He’s doing great,” Foran said.
Sammy and Juliana along with their families will be participating in the event.
Beloin, who is a mobile DJ, will be volunteering throughout the weekend to play music. Foran has signed up to play on Team Sammy along with her sister.
With the game just a few weeks away, Beloin said he’s looking forward to seeing the players out there playing for something they believe in and is hoping a lot of people stop by to support the players and donate, even if its $1.
“I’m hoping and expecting a lot of people come out, even if it’s just for an hour, to share and see what’s going on,” Belion said.
Foran said she’s excited to play in the game but more importantly she’s looking forward to raising awareness and funds for children’s cancer research and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, the national non-profit foundation that will benefit from the proceeds of the event.
“So, we can see all kids have successful stories like Sammy,” she said.
The fundraising goal for the game was set at $20,000. Each player had to raise $100 to play and as word spread of the game the donations came pouring in. As of early this week, a little more than $16,150 had been raised.
“It’s absolutely amazing to have a volunteer take on this type of event,” said Stacy McPhate, Regional Development Coordinator for New England for CureSearch, who will be playing on Team Sammy.
Foran echoed McPhate’s astonishment at what has been accomplished already.
“It’s amazing that a small group of people can make it this far,” she said.
Cummings acknowledged he’s stressing out a little as the game approaches because he’s never organized an event like this before.
“I’m excited too,” he said. “It’s a nervous excitement.”
Cummings said he’s hoping people come out to the game especially when the record is set to be broken.
“We’re hoping to have a pretty good crowd there to cheer us on,” Cummings said.