Swinging for the fences for a great cause.
Councilmember Mark Treyger and his staff collaborated with nonprofit organization Coney Island Autism Angels (CIAA), facing off in a friendly yet competitive softball game at the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, MCU Park, who donated the usage of the venue free of charge, on Tuesday, July 14.
Though rain threatened the fundraiser, skies cleared up right before game time, much to the delight of the teams and the crowd.
Treyger, who admitted he isn’t the most gifted athlete, was happy to help the CIAA’s cause. “This is about bringing residents, neighborhoods and families together to support a great cause,” he said. “Even if it means embarrassing myself on the baseball field, I’m willing to do it so support a system for families that have loved ones that have autism.”
According to the councilmember, the first annual softball fundraiser was the brainchild of the CIAA. “It was my pleasure to work with them,” Treyger said. “Anything I can do to support the families because they give of themselves, not only to their loved ones who are dealing with autism, but they also give of their time and efforts to support all families. To become a support system for them is the least we can do.”
CIAA was founded by Anthony and Veronica Droz, parents of a child with autism.
For CIAA volunteer and player in the event Robert Frankel, the day meant more than just hitting a ball. “We’re all neighborhood friends and we got together and Councilmember Treyger is a part of it. He supports us and between him and Veronica, they came up with this,” he said. “Her daughter has autism which started the program. Her husband Anthony and son are part of the team. Through meeting them I learned about autism. I never knew the spectrum of the disability itself. It opened my eyes a lot and that’s what this game is about, to raise awareness and money.”
Before first pitch, Andrea Lenderman of CIAA addressed the crowd. “As a community, we need to bring awareness and acceptance to autism,” she said. “These kids should be able to experience the joy and simplicity of the childhood and by showing up today, everyone is helping make this a reality.”
Team Treyger consisted of the councilmember, his staff and police officers from the 60th Precinct. CIAA ballplayers included members of the organization as well as volunteers and family.
The seven inning affair featured plenty of hits and stellar defense. The game was a see-saw battle, but in the end, Team Treyger eked out a victory 8-7. Treyger, during his one at-bat, made contact but lined out.
However, the final score was the last thing on participants’ minds as over 200 tickets were sold by CIAA and over $1,110 was raised.
“If there’s one thing that we should take away from today, without awareness there can never be acceptance,” said Lenderman.
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Jaime DeJesus