By HOWARD BALABAN
Medina Journal-Register — For years, youth baseball players in Medina’s various age groups of Little League rode in a bike-a-thon to raise money to keep the league running.
Now, instead of that, the Medina Youth Baseball League is holding a bowl-a-thon. It will take place this Saturday starting at 1 p.m. Bowlers will be staggered so the lanes are not too crowded at any given time.
The reason behind the change was simple, according to fundraising organizer Teresa Wilkins.
“We had less than 30 percent of the league participate last year,” said Teresa Wilkins, who has two sons playing baseball this summer. Numbers of participants had been dwindling for several years, she added.
The bike-a-thon involved a lot of pre-planning and coordination with the Medina Police Department to make sure the six-mile trek was safe for riders. However, with weather a variable factor, and with some bikers still on training wheels, the league made a decision to change its primary fundraiser.
“Obviously we’d like to raise as much money as we can get for the league,” Wilkins said. “At the bike-a-thon we provided hamburgers and hot dogs, but by moving it to the bowling alley we don’t have to provide the food.” She said anyone who wants something to eat can purchase it from the grille at Medina Lanes.
WIlkins said she is hoping for participation to increase this year thanks to the bowl-a-thon taking the bike-a-thon’s place.
“Last year we raised $3,500 with only the 30 percent participation,” she said. “I know we have one whole team already signed up and I’m waiting on the total number from everyone, but I’d love to see at least 100 kids participate.” Wilkins noted the league has about 150 youths signed up to play this summer.
“If every kid manages to raise $40, we’ll pass last year’s total,” she said.
The money raised helps to pay for umpires and the proper equipment (bats, helmets, etc.). It also goes toward more basic needs like uniforms and insurance.
The fields at Butts Park are also used by Medina Powder Puff Softball, and its commissioner, Brian Grimes, decided joining in on the bowl-a-thon would simply make sense.
“Logistically, it works out better,” Grimes said. Parents with siblings in both leagues, he said, now will only have to worry about a fundraising event for one day instead of several.
Also, since weather is always a factor in scheduling the bike-a-thon, rescheduling it for young softball players, Grimes discovered, was a difficult task.
“A lot of the girls who play softball are also in dance, so a lot of them have classes or recitals that present conflicts,” he explained, noting such issues kept participation numbers low.
Grimes agreed that the money raised will help keep league costs down, as well as pay for field improvements.
“We’re looking to put in a practice field with a backstop and bases, and we need to put a new fence up at field one at Butts Park,” he said. “The money we raise will help to do this.”