Little Leaguers Play Ball To Raise Funds For Oologah Meningitis Survivor

Saturday, July 24th 2010, 6:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

JENKS, OK -- Jeremiah Mitchell is a real hero, and a group of his peers awarded him with a medal to prove it Sunday morning.

News On 6 reporter Rick Wells was on hand to snap a pic as baseball players gave the Oologah boy a trophy and a medal in the tournament that is dedicated to the meningitis survivor.

More than two dozen little leaguers are braving the hot sun to help 6-year-old Jeremiah Mitchell as he continues to recover from meningitis. 

"The boys also gave him a few of the pins they collect during these tournaments around the state," Wells said.

The goal for this weekend's tournament in Jenks is to help Jeremiah's family replace a home that was destroyed in a spring storm. 

The 6-year-old Oologah boy continues to make progress since having his arms and legs amputated after contracting bacterial meningitis.

"We wanted to do something; we didn't know what to do," said Mike Payne, tournament organizer.

7/22/2010  Related Story: Charity Tournament To Benefit Oologah Meningitis Survivor

Payne is the brains behind Heroes on the Diamond. It includes 25 teams of kids, ages 7 to 14-years-old.

"Just has to happen, their family needs a lot of help. They've gone through a lot," said Payne.

The kids know why they're playing.

"Cause there's this person that he needs a lot more money to help get property to have fun and play," said Ryan Gasaway, a baseball player.

The kids say it feels good to help, though maybe they're just a bit subdued about it.

"It's good," said Mason Butler, a baseball player.

"It feels great," said Mathew Barlow, a baseball player.

"It feels great out here," said Brayden Williams, a baseball player.

Payne doesn't know the Mitchell family, but he does have a 6-year-old son. When he heard what happened to Jeremiah, Payne felt the best way to help was to enlist his own family and his son's friends. 

What better way than on the diamond?

"We really wanted to do something that involved the kids to help Jeremiah. And the kids that have been involved in this, they've got to follow the story of Jeremiah. They've come out with much more passion to do this," Payne said.

Jeremiah's family says they're overwhelmed by the support. The families who are helping with the tournament just hope their thoughts, and a little fun between the chalk, will go a long way.

"We just keep everybody in our prayers, their families, and hope this we help them all out," said Milly Dunlap, a coach's wife.

Since the storm, Jeremiah and his family have been living with his grandmother in a home on the same property.

Payne says the goal is to raise at least $50,000. You can still donate to the cause even after this weekend, just contact the Tulsa Community Foundation.