Faulkner Park was overrun with the sounds and smells of springtime in East Texas on Saturday, thanks to the Strike Out Cancer for Make-A-Wish Foundation baseball tournament.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas serves to grant wishes of local children ages 2 to 18 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical conditions, said Robin Alvarado, director of development for the foundation.
Ms. Alvarado said the foundation granted 77 wishes for East Texas children last year and has a similar goal this year.
The average cost of a wish is approximately $7,000, Ms. Alvarado said.
The wishes tend to fall into four different categories, she said. The first category is the wish to go somewhere that could include Disney World or Hawaii.
The next category is the wish to meet someone, typically a celebrity or athlete, with the third type of wish to be something in particular.
“It’s usually little girls who wish to be a princess for the day,” Ms. Alvarado said. “(We also had) a little boy who wished to be a police officer.”
The most popular wish is to have something, which she explained as kids typically asking for a shopping spree, a bedroom renovation or a media room.
Proceeds from the tournament also will go back to the park and local little leagues, Whitehead said.
Whitehead, owner of Dynasty Sports, a sports management company that hosts United States Specialty Sports Association baseball tournaments at Faulkner Park and surrounding areas, organized the two-day event.
Whitehead said this was his first time hosting a tournament that partnered with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Being a relatively new father of a 3-year-old has made him appreciate a child with a clean bill of health, but it also made him realize the unfortunate outcomes that come with life, he said.
“(There are) people who go through great tribulations, for lack of a better term,” he said. “(We want to do) anything we can do to help them (with this) struggle, that we say we understand, but we can’t even relate to.”
He said that while the tournament hopes to contribute $15,000 to the foundation that will help children, he understands parents are still going through an unimaginable situation.
“It’s not a drop in the bucket to the things they deal with and try to overcome,” Whitehead said. “We’re going to try and help in a small way for a greater cause.”
Another regional council member of the foundation, Jimmy Boyd, has a special connection, to not just the tournament, but also the organization.
Boyd, who helped organize the event and coached a team at the tournament, also has a son who is benefiting from the foundation.
His son Collin, who was diagnosed with cancer last May, has been in remission since November.
Collin is being granted a trip to Hawaii.
Boyd certainly believes Make-A-Wish is a worthy foundation, he said.
Boyd also said he was impressed with the turnout at the event.
“It’s just amazing the amount of people that volunteered, and the record number of teams (that came to help). It’s pretty amazing,” he said.
Alvarado said she also was astonished at the community, who came to help a worthy cause.
“It’s really impressive,” Ms. Alvarado said. “It’s exciting to get the whole community involved — in anything — but especially to let people know Make-A-Wish is here in Tyler, and we’re granting wishes locally.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer or contribute financially to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas can visit www.ntx.wish.org.