Bradford Minor Baseball Association (BMBA) is always looking for sponsors for its hardball teams. This year, it received a very special sponsorship.
The Many Hands, Doing Good Foundation offered to sponsor a team in memory of nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake.
On Sept. 27, 2015, an impaired driver slammed his car into a minivan in Vaughan, killing four of the occupants – the Neville-Lake children, Daniel, Harrison and Milagros, and their grandfather, Gary Neville.
Mother Jennifer Neville-Lake founded Many Hands, Doing Good in their memory, a foundation dedicated to helping children who have suffered trauma by funding art and music therapy. Many Hands, Doing Good also provides financial help to students pursuing a career in broadcasting, and hopes to inspire future generations.
In a letter, read by coach and foundation board member Andy Pattenden, Jennifer Neville-Lake told the young Bradford players that Daniel "just loved" baseball and was passionate about the Toronto Blue Jays.
Just one week before his tragic death, Daniel went to a Jays game, where he met his favourite player, Russell Martin, “got to run bases” – and met Blue Jay greats like Roberto Alomar.
Daniel was looking forward to playing the sport.
“He never had a chance to play baseball,” wrote Jennifer, who sent a photo of Daniel in his Jays jersey at that last game.
South Simcoe Police Staff Sgt. John Chalmers was on hand to bring a special message, and a plea.
“When it comes down to drinking and driving, there are no borders,” Chalmers said. South Simcoe has been working with York Regional Police and other police services to carry out R.I.D.E. checks and nab impaired drivers before they cause tragedies on the roads.
“We’re pulling cars over, we’re supporting the community,” he said. “It’s about education.”
Chalmers urged everyone, “If you see someone you think is impaired, please call 911… We are all here to make a difference, together.”
“The message is all about community,” said BMBA Vice President Shawna Miller. “We at BMBA know that baseball is about more than the sport, it’s about community.
"As a community and a team, you build something up. You’re there for the wins, you’re there for the losses” – supporting each other, in good times, and in tragedy, like the loss of the Neville-Lake family members.
And wearing their new jerseys, blazened with Many Hands, Doing Good, the team “will carry that sense of community, on and off the field,” she said.
As a thank you to the foundation, the Many Hands, Doing Good team presented Pattenden, who is a York Regional Police constable, with one of their new jerseys, signed by every member of the team.