Fighting the heat for a great cause

Posted by on Jul 23 in RAGBRAI

Well, Iowa never lets us down, always saving the heat for RAGBRAI week! Regardless of weather, we are having a great time. We loved our overnight in Okoboji, enjoying live music and fireworks in historic Arnold’s Park. Sunday’s ride was great, with wind at our side or back. Monday was not as pleasant due to 20 mph winds against us and high humidity. Tuesday was the longest – and of course hottest – day, so we took it slow with breaks to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We are excited to get to Waverly and Independence, the overnight towns closest to our beloved Build Our Ballpark roots!

One rider said he has never seen this many riders at RAGBRAI – they told me over 20,000 for Monday. All ages, and from all over the state, country, and continent! We love hearing people’s stories about why they ride and how many times they’ve done RAGBRAI. I met a man Sunday who was from Waterloo and said it was his 39th time – out of 42. Wow!

For those of you who may have lost track of all of Build Our Ballpark’s projects since starting in 2008, here’s a timeline that summarizes the group’s exceptional work:

A total of 15 fields have been built and/or renovated in Waterloo. Now, Build Our Ballpark is helping with plans in Alden, Iowa, and all the way out in Atherton, California! There is also a major complex in the works at Parkersburg that will include a Miracle Field for handicapped children. Pretty amazing opportunities!

COY-logoAside from the actual fields, Build Our Ballpark has done some outstanding community events, too. On August 4, the fourth annual Coaches of the Year ceremony will take place in Waterloo. Players and their parents have nominated their favorite coaches, and a selection committee will pick the winners. This has become a tradition that everyone looks forward to, and many coaches list this award amongst their proudest accomplishments. Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without heading to the Waterloo Bucks game afterward!

YBSD-logo1This year, Build Our Ballpark celebrated Youth Baseball Softball day once again – an official state holiday the group established with help from Governor Chet Culver in 2009. For the second year in a row, kids wrote essays or made videos telling everyone why they love playing baseball or softball. The sweepstakes winners’ team got sporting goods gift cards for new equipment. You can see the winning video on the Build Our Ballpark homepage. We hope to see this fun event continue growing across the state – and hopefully become a national holiday!

The grand openings of the renovated fields have come to be major events, too. In June 2013, the grand re-opening of the eight fields at Riverfront Sports Park drew media and spectators galore. The park was boasted as a “crown jewel” of Waterloo, and Mayor Buck Clark told the crowd that every city should be so lucky to have a Bob Hellman. I tend to agree. There is even a plaque at the park commemorating Team BOB’s efforts! Up until this year, the Team raised about $400,000 – you can help us add to that total by donating here!

And this year, hoping to start a new tradition, Build Our Ballpark is working hand-in-hand with the new state-of-the-art Cedar Valley SportsPlex to host the Run the Bases 5K/10K on Saturday, August 16. Running is as big of a passion as baseball is for my dad, so this project is especially exciting. Runners will touch the bases as they wind through Riverfront Sports Park on either a 5K or 10K route. You can bet Bob will be at the front of the starting line! There will also be a mile-long Fun Run for beginners, and several local businesses will give out snacks and prizes inside the SportsPlex. The goal is to draw a big crowd and raise lots of awareness and funds for Build Our Ballpark’s continued work. I think the top prizes valued at $300 will help them do just that! Check out this site for more info or to register. Prices go up after July 31.

For now, I’m off to enjoy Mason City! Thank you so much for reading and following along on this muggy journey. We are honored to wear the Team BOB jerseys and talk to people about the Build Our Ballpark mission each day. Ride on!

-Roz Weis