A group of Cathedral Catholic baseball players are displaying the best kind of teamwork, banding together to help raise money to build a sports center for underprivileged children in Tijuana. The boys are hoping to raise $45,000 for Build a Miracle non-profit to improve the lives of youngsters in the Florido Anabel neighborhood of Tijuana.
The teammates have committed to not only raising the funds but to helping complete the manual labor of building the facility.
Rancho Santa Fe’s Jake Connolly, 15, is the only freshman in the group of players. The 10 other players who have stepped up to participate include CCHS sophomores Cade Brown, Jacob Allred, Jake Goddard, Trevor Magnett, Nick Nastrini, Danny Becerra, Brendan Mullen, Tommy Twomey, Jag Twigg and KC Cowan.
The boys play together on the Cathedral Catholic Junior Varsity team as well as on the select travel baseball team, the San Diego SHOW.
The players’ efforts were inspired in part by Nick’s older sister Jenna, a CCHS graduate who, in 2013, singlehandedly raised more than $14,000 for Build a Miracle to build and furnish a three-bedroom home for a family of seven that had previously been living in a one-room shack with a dirt floor and no indoor plumbing.
The Build a Miracle home-building non-profit, based in Scripps Ranch, officially started in 2001 but its origins date back to the day the founders Chris and Julanne North met while painting an orphanage in Mexico in 1985. The couple was passionate about making a difference and community support, and donations have allowed Build a Miracle to grow. On the strength of donations and hundreds of volunteer builders, the organization has now built 230 homes for families in Mexico, giving them a safe and decent place to live. They also provide education, trade schools and support for small businesses.
The 11 boys in the group each aim to raise their share of the $45,000 fundraising goal. To help raise his money, Jake requested donations instead of gifts for Christmas and has about $500 to go before he meets his target.
More than just handing over money, the boys have made real connections with the community they are serving — each of the baseball players also has a “Buddy” at Build A Miracle. The team exchanged letters with their Buddies and before Christmas the boys got to meet them when they traveled to Tijuana, bearing gifts and engaging their Buddies in a game of soccer on the dirt field where they play now.
“They won,” Jake said of their soccer-loving Buddies.
Jake’s Buddy is a 9-year-old named Axel.
“It was really fun to meet him and really cool to see the looks on their faces when they got their gifts,” Jake said. “Axel was proud of his soccer playing.”
Once the Dons are done, the Buddies and hundreds of other children in Florido Anabel will be able to play sports at the new Build A Miracle Sports Center, which will feature a full-service sport court, stadium seating, lighting and equipment.
The sports center will give the kids a safe and fun place to play and as Jake said, “give them a dream to reach to.”
“This is teaching me to appreciate what I have in life and to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way, including the opportunity to help others,” Jake said.
To donate to Jake and the CCHS team’s efforts, e-mail Jconnelly2019@cchsdons.com
To learn more about Build A Miracle, visit buildamiracle.net.