The Tuesday Noon Optimists Club of Cedar Rapids has made numerous $100 and $200 donations to worthy causes in the community over the years, but this time the Optimists have belted one out of the ballpark.
The club presented a $50,000 check to Prospect Meadows during a recent meeting held in June to help finance the League of Dreams program at the new baseball and softball facility. The club also made a $50,000 donation several months ago, raising its total contribution to $100,000 and giving the Optimists Club full naming rights to the Optimists Field at Prospect Meadows.
“We’re awfully excited about this,” said Ken Nye, the president of the Tuesday Noon Optimists Foundation. “We were so excited to find a legacy program like the League of Dreams. It’s a pretty neat thing.”
The League of Dreams program began about 10 years ago in Cedar Rapids to give boys and girls of all economic backgrounds a chance to play ball. The program has now grown to Prospect Meadows, which opened in May to rave reviews.
The League of Dreams program has expanded this year and now includes 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. The program includes instruction and games and involves the staff at Prospect Meadows, Perfect Game, the Cedar Rapids Recreation Department, the Kernels, Minor League Baseball and the Rawlings Sporting Goods company. Kernels players are involved with the program, when their schedule permits.
The program is entirely free for all participants, who receive shirts and caps and get to use high-quality equipment. One of the rewards is seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces. The Optimists are delighted to help make it happen. New players can join at any time.
“The purpose of the Optimists Club is being a friend of youth,” said Nye. “That was our goal, to make a difference.”
Tim Brecht, the director of community outreach at Prospect Meadows, attended Tuesday’s meeting and accepted the $50,000 donation on behalf of the facility and all the young people who are participating in the program.
“The kids are playing and having a good time,” Brecht reported. “In only a few weeks, it’s really incredible how much better they’ve become.”
“It’s a wonderful thing. It really is,” he said. “They’re smiling, they’re enjoying it.”
The League of Dreams is held at Prospect Meadows on the Optimists Field on Mondays and Wednesdays. They will hold an all-star game on July 9 at Veterans Memorial Stadium at the end of the League of Dreams campaign and the Dreamers will participate in a parade with the Kernels July 11 at the stadium.