Michael Pesci, a sophomore at DePaul Catholic High School in Wayne, NJ, organized an annual “home-run derby” that has raised more than $75,000 over the past four years for disabled and disadvantaged individuals. Michael’s project began shortly after he volunteered to help out with a baseball game for special-needs children.
“Their attitude and passion to play baseball, even though they were handicapped, was very inspiring,” he said. Searching for a way to support these young athletes, he decided to hold a home-run hitting contest similar to one at a baseball camp he’d attended.
After Michael and a friend developed an action plan, they formed a nonprofit corporation, figured out how their derby would work, and began publicizing the event through a Web site and speaking engagements. At the event, both children and adults made donations for the opportunity to swing at seven pitches and win trophies for the longest hits.
During the four years that the “Perfect Pitch” Home Run Derby has been held, Michael also has raised money by soliciting donations from corporations and holding raffles for sports memorabilia donated by former New York Yankees Don Larsen, Yogi Berra, and David Cone. The money raised so far has been used primarily to buy equipment for a local sports league for disabled children, to finance trips for a Boy Scout troop of physically and mentally handicapped adults, and support sports programs for inner-city children.