Super Fitz and friends raise close to $33,000 for Juvenile Diabetes

“She appeared to be tired. Something wasn’t right and then they told us.”

When doctors told Paul Fitzgerald that his daughter, Caroline, then 8 years-old, had juvenile diabetes, like most parents, he was quick to confess, although familiar with the terminology, he wasn’t completely familiar with the disease. However, that was three years ago. Today, Paul Fitzgerald, a Superintendent in the Boston Police Department, and his family not only have a better understanding of the disease that effects approximately 285 million people worldwide, but they also better understand the responsibility that comes with doing everything in their power to spread the word about the need for funding the research that will one day lead to a cure. “The goal is to cure this disease. We can’t wait to see the day when no family has to worry about juvenile diabetes. But accomplishing that goal means people have to step up. I can't be a doctor but I can raise money.”

In an effort to step up, Fitzgerald and his family had long been thinking about a way to raise awareness and monies for the disease that presently affects their daughter. To hear Paul tell it, the family had been thinking about holding a road race or a golf tourney. And although Paul is a big fan of both, he was looking for something different, something that would be more inclusive, something, not only, for adults, but also for kids of Caroline’s age. So, after much talk and some lengthy discussions, the idea came to the Fitzgeralds courtesy of an old friend and colleague. Said Detective Cecil Jones, “How about a wiffle ball tournament?” To Fitzgerald and his family, the suggestion was one they liked instantly. Liking the idea, however, was one thing, making the idea happen was another.

But earlier this summer, thanks to a wonderful support group and people like Karen Kelleher, Tommy Joyce, Brendan England, Sean Butler and so many others, on June 12th, 2010, the 1stAnnual Field of Dreams Wiffle Ball Tournament took to four make-shift diamonds inside the Boston Athletic Club and became a reality. According to Fitzgerald, the reality of the day far exceeded all expectations and went far better than anyone could have envisioned or imagined. According to Fitzgerald, on the day of the event, he couldn’t help but count his blessings. He says, prior to the first pitch being thrown, he looked around at the large turnout and found himself humbled by the tremendous show of support and friendship. “Something like this only comes together because people who care make it happen. I can’t thank my family, my friends and all those who participated enough. This day was possible because people cared enough to come out.”

During the course of the day, there were many highlights. Among them there was the singing of the national anthem by Rene Rancourt and the in-person presentation of a Keith Yandle autographed jersey by Keith Yandle himself. Yandle, an NHL defenseman who currently plays for the Phoenix Coyotes, said he was more than happy to stop by to help out a great cause.  Said the young boy who won the jersey, “I can’t believe Keith Yandle gave me his shirt.”

For Fitzgerald there were many highlights as well, but one in particular stood out among the many. “Seeing my daughter, Caroline, throw out the 1st pitch really got the day off to a special start and, for me, it’s something I’ll never forget.”

At the end of the day, thou, the event was organized and designed to raise money. And, when it came to raising dough for a great cause, the 1stAnnual Field of Dreams Wiffle Ball Tourney was nothing short of a huge home run. All in all, the tourney raised $32,500. An amount, says Fitzgerald, far exceeded any and all expectations. “You never know how much you’re going to raise. We had a best case goal of $20,000. So, raising what we did certainly surprised us. But again, it speaks to the generosity of all those who came out.” The check was officially presented to JDRF this past Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 at Boston Police Headquarters.

Said Heidi Daniels, Executive Director of the JDRF New England Chapter, "I'm always amazed at what people raise because every donation counts. But, when a first time event hits it out of the park they way this event did, you really have to tip your hat to those who made it happen. It's a thrill and a tribute to their hard work." 

Already those who played in this year’s tourney are asking about next year. And, when asked if there would be a 2nd Field of Dreams tourney to gear up and get ready for, Fitzgerald added, “You can count on it.”

To make a donation or learn more about Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, log on to the website at www.jdrf.org

Quick Facts about Diabetes:

  • Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes.
  • As many as three million Americans may have type 1 diabetes.
  • Diabetes currently affects 285 million people.
  • In the U.S., a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 30 seconds.
  • More than 1.6 million people are diagnosed each year.