If The Chive Builds It, They Will Come: A Ballpark Expansion Worth Talking About

If The Chive Builds It, They Will Come: A Ballpark Expansion Worth Talking About
A rendering of KCCO Ability Field in Hutto, TX

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.

Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman

Thanks for reading; if you enjoyed it, please share with others.  And if you'd like to be updated on my future posts, and those from the rest of the Cubs Insider team, you can subscribe below.

Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

And be sure to like Cubs Insider on Facebook.

Filed under: Pop Culture

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Thanks for the perspective

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Gator:

    You're very welcome.

  • fb_avatar

    Evan, This is John Lorek. Thank you so much for your kind words. It's Father's like us who simply wants to make this a better world for all children! :)

  • fb_avatar

    John, wow, I'm amazed that you found this! As you may have gathered from reading, I went to college with John Resig and have been following his exploits since then. I've not talked to him since graduation, but it's been really cool to see what he and his family have done.

    I know you're a good guy just from the name you gave your son, but your efforts on this field are extraordinary and I really enjoyed seeing all the updates to the fundraiser page. I'm proud to be even a very, very small part of the outstanding total and I applaud you for getting this off the ground. You're an inspiration!

  • fb_avatar

    Thanks Bud, My wife loves the Cubbies and I am blessed I met here since Ryne Sandberg has always been my favorite Baseball Player ever. I am originally from Cleveland so guilty of loving the Browns and Indians. When I asked my wife if we could name our son Ryne, you should have seen the smile on her face. Ryne got to meet Ryne Sandberg a few times and you should have seen Sandberg's face when we told him we named our son after him. My son might not make a huge impact in the Majors like Sandberg has done, But my son will be a huge factor for all individuals with disabilities when he is old enough to take the reigns! I have met John Resig and Leo a few times and I cannot tell you how awesome the whole group is. From Angie, Brian, John, Leo, and the rest of the group, they took all of our children like family and all we need to see is our children's faces and finally have a place to call home! I hopefully look forward to meeting you one day since we want to do a MLBPAA "Legends for Youth" Baseball Clinic for children with disabilities in Chicago in the Spring of 2015! I would be honored to have you help us out with that Clinic. You can email me at john@ctxabilitysports.com. Have a blessed Sunday.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Lorek:

    Wow, thanks! That would be awesome and I'd love to help. I'm a pretty amazing t-ball coach, so I know my skills would go a long way. Seriously though, I'd be honored.

    My wife grew up a White Sox fan, but I got her converted pretty quickly and my kids are named Ryne and Addison. I took my son to a local AAA game when Ryno was the opposing manager and we got to meet him and get a photo opp, so that was really cool.

    All the best with getting the field up and going!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Evan Altman:

    As John said Evan, thanks so much for your awesome words and for taking the time to share our story!!

    P.S. Go Rangers!! lol

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rocky Mojica:

    Rocky, your little guy is an absolute hero and an inspiration. Seeing those pictures and that quick gif of him running was amazing. It was great to see the joy on his face and to see all the other kids having a good time and knowing that they'll have a field of their own.

    This is just such an awesome project and I still think there's something magical about baseball. My own team is lacking some of that right now, and I get as caught up in all the silliness as anything else, but this story gave me a better perspective. Tell your little guy I said hi.

    I'll actually be at a Rangers game in a couple weeks, so I'll be pulling for them for a little bit at least!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Evan Altman:

    Thx again Evan and he's definitely my hero too. God has given him an amazing amount of strength and perseverance to go through all he has gone through and still keep a smile on his face. If you would like to keep up with his journey you can like his page at... https://www.facebook.com/teamdjthebrave

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rocky Mojica:

    Just liked it, awesome stuff.

Leave a comment