Pardon me for co-opting an overused quote, but I could think of nothing more fitting to set up the following story. I'm not alone in being intrigued by the latest renderings of the proposed expansion and renovation of Wrigley Field and the surrounding areas, but all the pictures and ensuing discussion reminded me of a much smaller, but perhaps more meaningful, taking place down in Texas.
When I first heard about The Chive, it was as the result of checking out the bio of a former classmate, a guy who told one of our English professors after graduation that he was "going to jump on a plane to LA and become famous." I was a little coy about his website when I wrote that earlier article, but I don't think there's any need to be now.
Even if you've never visited the site, you may well be familiar with The Chive from their increasingly-ubiquitous Keep Calm and Chive On (KCCO) shirts, or maybe the ones with various iterations of Bill Murray's likeness. Or perhaps you've seen bottles of KCCO Black Lager (Grin and Beer It?) on the shelves of your favorite package store.
While it's often their photo galleries, which range from Pinterest fails, to weird and random images, to provocative (Mind the Gap, Hump Day, Tug Life), that garner the most visual attention, The Chive has been making waves lately for a project that tugs not on clothing, but on the heartstrings.
It all started with a man named John Lorek, who had been driving past an empty lot in Hutto, TX for years, imagining the possibilities it held for children like his son Ryne (also my son's name, so I like this guy already), who has cerebral palsy. John saw a place where his son and other local children with special needs could gather to play the game that they loved. But the cost of setting up such a baseball field was simply too great.
John was like Donatello (my favorite turtle) or Michelangelo, picturing a finished sculpture living inside the rough block of granite. However, lacking the tools to release his masterpiece, Mr. Lorek continued to drive and pine, to dream about what could be. Through various efforts, John managed to cobble together around $10,000, not a bad total.
But for the type of project he had envisioned, John was about $240,000 short. Enter another John, Resig, from The Chive. Together with Brian Mercedes, executive director of Chive Charities, Resig pledged $200,000 toward the construction of a special-needs baseball diamond. He also enlisted the help of Chivers, patrons of the website, to raise the remaining $50,000.
Through a GoFundMe campaign started by Lorek, anyone could go online to donate whatever they could afford; the goal was reached in just over an hour. And five minutes after hitting the $50K mark, pledges were at $65,000. To date, donations have reached over $155,000, more than enough to add a splash pad and cover the cost of upkeep on the field for a long time to come.
You can read more about the story of KCCO Ability Field here, and I dare you not to get a little choked up after reading about DJ Mojica and then seeing pictures and a gif of him and the other children running the bases.
My 7-year-old daughter was born with one kidney and congenital scoliosis, the latter of which has certainly impacted her lung capacity, balance, and gait but hasn't yet kept her from competitive sports. Even with few restrictions (hockey, football), I remember the pride I felt as a father when she was able to get out there on the court (the first basket she ever made was at Indiana University's Assembly Hall with Jordan Hulls supervising) or the field for the first time.
I can only imagine what parents like John Lorek or Rocky and Ashlei Mojica felt when they realized that their children and so many others would get that opportunity as well. No squabbling with neighbors or navigating the treacherous channels of city politics; just unadulterated joy.
When it comes to ballpark expansion projects, this might not be getting as much run as the one at 1060 W. Addison, but it's a hell of a lot more fun to read, and write, about.
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Filed under: Pop Culture