The Nationals may be on the road for Memorial Day Weekend, but baseball is still being played at Nationals Park this weekend. While the big league club battles it out for National League East supremacy in Atlanta, the players here in D.C. are fighting for a much larger cause.
On Friday, the club hosts the opening ceremony for the Washington Nationals Memorial Day Wood Bat Tournament in partnership with Kyle’s Kamp and Children’s National Medical Center. The man behind putting this all together is Rob Hahne, the father of Kyle Hahne, an avid baseball fan who, at the age of six in late 2010, was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Rob did what we can all only hope to do when confronted with a life-altering situation, and decided to try to make the best of it by using the game of baseball to raise awareness and money for other children suffering through the same types of afflictions as his son. His crusade began with a tournament last year around Memorial Day, for which the players were able to raise a total of about $12,000.
While some might consider that quite an accomplishment, Hahne knew he could do better. He looked at the big picture, and saw no bigger opportunity when it came to baseball in Washington D.C. than working with the Nationals.
“We had a lot of doubters at our first meeting when I said, ‘we want to approach the Nationals and we want to raise $250,000,’” explained Hahne. “We had a lot of blank stares.”
Not to be deterred, Hahne reached out and made contact with the club. The Nationals jumped at the opportunity to support Hahne in his cause, donating use of the Major League field and ballpark for the tournament.
“This was an easy decision for us because of our great relationship with both Children’s National Medical Center and the youth baseball community,” said Israel Negron, Nationals Senior Director of Community Relations. “This is exactly the type of community event we envisioned hosting when we built Nationals Park. We are thrilled that the ballpark could help boost their fundraising efforts.”
Boost they did. The end result is a tournament with ceremonies that will include over 3,000 players, ages eight through adult, from nearly 200 Mid-Atlantic region teams. Remember that outlandish goal of $250,000 that Hahne proposed last October?
“We are up to over $400,000,” he said, proudly. “That doesn’t even include what we will raise this weekend. We’re hoping to double our (original) goal, and hit $500,000.”
As a reward for their hard work and amazing charitable efforts, the six teams that raised the most funds will play against one another at Nationals Park leading up to the ceremony. The rest of the tournament will take place around the Washington metropolitan area throughout the holiday weekend.
The numbers are great, but what’s really important is where the money goes. The funds raised will benefit the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center, helping other children like Kyle. For Hahne and his wife, that’s the best way they can help fight for their son.
“It offers us peace and support seeing all the people coming together, the community coming together on the behalf of families like ours,” he said. “We see a lot of families who can’t afford the type of things we can afford, and we want to make sure they get the same treatment.”
Click here for more information about this weekend’s tournament and how you can be a part of Kyle’s Kamp.