Kickball players break record, raise $45K for cancer research
NAUGATUCK — Records are made to be broken. This past weekend a group of kickball players, 52 strong, brought record breaking to charitable heights.
Shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday two teams of kickball players — Team Sammy and Team Juliana — took to the field at Linden Park to break the Guinness World Record for the longest kickball game and raise money for children’s cancer research. Fifty-one hours and 325 innings later, the clock struck noon on Sunday, the record fell and more than $41,000 had been raised.
“It’s awesome,” said Delia Foran of West Hartford, who played on Team Sammy, after the record was broken. “I’ve been talking about it for three months. Now, I can’t believe we can say we beat the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest kickball game. It’s awesome. I’d do it all over again if I had to.”
Foran was playing for more than the record. Team Sammy was named in honor of her son, who turns 2 in May, one of the weekend’s two “Homerun Heroes.”
When Sammy was four-months old he was diagnosed with stage 1 neuroblastoma, a common cancer in infants. He is now in remission and has a clean bill of health.
Team Juliana was named for Homerun Hero Juliana Belion, 6, of Wolcott, who has overcome Wilms’ tumor, a kidney cancer. She had to have one of her kidneys removed.
“It means a lot not only for our family but for all the families that are suffering,” said Juliana’s father Tim Belion, a DJ who provided music and emceed the weekend, about the game and players. “Most of them don’t even know a child with cancer. They gave their entire weekend. They’re exhausted, they’re tired, they’re irritable, but, they still have smiles on their faces.”
Juliana and Sammy mingled with the teams throughout the weekend, providing moral support for the players and reminding them of who they were playing for.
The game was organized by former Naugatuck resident Sean Cummings, manager of the Naugatuck-based, co-ed adult kickball league CT Triumph. The game benefited CureSearch for Children’s Cancer.
“A lot of people asked me when I started this thing, ‘Why you’re doing this? Do you know somebody with cancer?’” Cummings said during an opening ceremony on Friday morning. “Fortunately, I have not known anybody with cancer. … I guess I’m just doing it because I’m a dad. I have a five-year old, a one-year old, I have no idea how I would react if I had the horrible news.”
CureSearch is a national nonprofit foundation whose mission is to fund and support children’s cancer research and provide information and resources to all those affected by children’s cancer, according to the foundation’s website. CureSearch supports clinical trials research at more than 175 local hospitals across the country.
“Everyday, 36 families hear those very painful and dreaded words, ‘Your child has cancer,’” said Stacy McPhate, Regional Development Coordinator for New England for CureSearch, during the opening ceremony. McPhate was one of the 26 players on Team Sammy.
Gazing over the crowd and players gathered Friday morning, McPhate added, “I look out on the field today, I am very confident that yes together we can conquer children’s cancer.”
Kickball players from throughout the country made their way to Naugatuck for the game.
Kenneth Haas, from Atlanta, played on Team Sammy. For Haas, who heard about the game through his circuit kickball team, the Boston-based Angry Penguins, the meaning of the game was dear to his heart. His father recently died after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
When asked how he felt to break the record, Haas turned as he ran onto the field and simply said, “I did it for my father.”
At the time the record was broken, slightly more than $41,000 was raised for CureSearch. When the game finally ended — after 54 hours, seven seconds and 345 innings — the final tally stood at about $45,000. The players more than doubled the original goal set at $20,000 by Cummings, who was amazed by the figure.
“I thought $20,000 was unrealistic,” Cummings said.
The record won’t be official until a video of the game and a slew of paper work is reviewed by the people at the Guinness Book of World Records. However, by the time the last out was recorded Sunday afternoon, the players had made their way through a cold, sometimes wet, weekend into history.
When Foran reflected on the weekend, she said she was overwhelmed to think about what the players did and all the people who supported their efforts.
“I’m still amazed that people, most who don’t know anybody affected by cancer, would come and spend an insane amount of time for a good cause,” Foran said.