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Youth Sports Heroes of the Month: Billerica (Mass.) Floggers U-15 Baseball Team

Most youth leaguers will never play on a team that wins the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl's Lombardi Trophy or any similar prize that attracts the world's attention, but kids treasure the championship trophies they win for community success. When the Billerica Floggers won the Suburban Pony League title in August of 2010, the 14-15-year-olds seemed no different than other baseball players their age.  League of Dreams

But as things turned out, the Floggers were different because the players decided that giving to a cause was more important than receiving personal recognition.  Instead of making room on the mantelpiece at home, the team voted to turn down the trophies and donate their value (about $300) to the local Challenger Division baseball program, which enrolls 6-16-year-olds with physical or mental disabilities. Parents followed their sons' lead with donations of their own, and the team presented the Division with a check for about $2000.

The players knew the Challenger Division's need first-hand. Some Floggers served as "Baseball Buddies," pairing up with the Division's disabled youngsters who needed help hitting, running the bases, and playing the field, often in wheelchairs, on crutches or with walkers.The Division buys equipment and uniforms, but charges families no registration fee because they already have medical bills and so many other special expenses to manage.

"We've been really blessed to have a lot of talent on our team, and the money will really help," explained 15-year-old Flogger Max Frawley, who volunteered as a Baseball Buddy because the disabled youngsters "love the game as much as we do." "It means a lot to us to do this," added teammate Dylan Lavery, "It really makes you feel good inside."

The lesson of this story: Generosity "really makes you feel good inside"

The Floggers' generosity demonstrates that at any age, two keys to philanthropy are empathy and personal satisfaction. When Max Frawley recognized that "we've been really blessed to have a lot of talent on our team," he recognized that good health is a gift that many good people do not enjoy. "One must know not just how to accept a gift,' says poet Maya Angelou, "but with what grace to share it."

When Dylan Lavery said that donating his trophy "really makes you feel good inside," he reminded us that generosity benefits not only the recipient, but also the donor who feels a sense of worth. Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson was right that "no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."

Source: Chris Camire. "Title In Hand, But Billerica Ballplayers Know Who the Real Champs Are" Lowell (Mass.) Sun. Aug. 28, 2010

Posted August 1, 2011