Charity is a team effort with Orlando Baseball

Roy Hobbs Baseball

Orlando Baseball Association
Photo courtesy of Orlando Baseball AssnMembers of the Orlando Baseball Association – Jose Rosado, Kenny Cripps, Joe Steffens, Jerry Litvak, Tim Lysik, Mike Haugh, Jim Carels, Bruce Wile, Joe Volpe and Bob Misko – work with the Safehouse of Seminole County, a shelter for abused women and their children. This photo was from a BBQ and bicycle rodeo for the Safehouse. (The children’s faces are covered to protect their identities.)

Bob Misko and his wife, Kim, endured the unendurable in 2013, a pain that will never go away. Their 19-year-old daughter AJ died from an inoperable brain stem tumor.

As they grieved, Bob and Kim were comforted by their baseball family. There were friends in the Orlando Baseball Association and teammates in the wider world of Roy Hobbs Baseball.

In the 4 years since, Bob, Kim and the Orlando Baseball Association have helped others.

“I’m really proud of what we do,” Misko said.

And they do a great deal.

The first charitable venture after his daughter’s death was a motorcycle poker run that raised more than $5,000 for the Voices of Brain Cancer.

The Orlando Baseball Association was just getting warmed up, looking for more “teammates.”

The Miskos and the Orlando Baseball Association began helping The SafeHouse of Seminole County, which is in central Florida. The SafeHouse is a refuge for battered women and their children, a sanctuary from louts who beat and terrorize.

In 2015, a check for $2,000 was presented to the SafeHouse. The 300 or so players in the league began donating time and money to the organization. They taught children how to shoot basketballs and throw baseballs. They organized a BBQ for the residents and donated more than 125 bicycles.

They also purchased two laptops and Kim helps with financial planning.

Even more important, perhaps, than the tangible items were the intangible values they displayed. The players became role models, showing that all men don’t beat women.

Misko and other plays have learned The SafeHouse is not a theoretical sanctuary. It’s very real, as Misko and others learned the day after the BBQ, which included two bounce houses for the children.

They were told that a former resident and her two children were murdered the evening of the BBQ. What the OBA does to help the SafeHouse actually helps save lives.

Other women know the same fate could await them outside the SafeHouse.

“These families will probably be looking over their shoulders for a good portion of their lives,” Misko wrote in a letter to a Roy Hobbs writer.

In July, Jeanne Gold, the CEO of the SafeHouse of Seminole, wrote a long letter addressed to “Bob, Kim and all the members of Orlando Baseball Association.”

In the letter, Gold wrote that, “the OBA has made such a powerful and positive difference in the lives of the women and children of SafeHouse. As we reflect on the dozens of incredible acts of kindness shown to the SafeHouse family, we can’t help but feel grateful and honored to know such a wonderful group of men and women.”

Later in the letter, Gold wrote this: “The OBA’s thoughtful donations have filled SafeHouse with smiles and magical memories of times spent with friends who support and care about them.”

Back in May the OBA received a note with this tagline: “To: The Orlando Baseball Association who helped a stranger.”

The note from a SafeHouse resident started off with this sentence: “To the Souls who found it in their hearts to help a stranger.”

The writer thanked the OBA for a bicycle she uses in her commute to work and the league’s “kindness and generosity.”

She concluded her note with the following two sentences: “I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I won’t ever forget your kindness and one day soon I too will be able to help someone like you helped me.”

The league’s kindness extends to Addair Middle School in Lake Alfred. The league donated baseball gear to the school.

When two police officers in the central Florida community of Kissimmee were murdered over the summer the OBA stepped in to help. A player in the league owns a Teams Official memorabilia store in the same town and said he would donate 10 percent of sales from Saturday, Nov. 26, to the families of the two men. The OBA said it would match the donation for the weekend.

The Orlando Baseball Association has open arms and hearts when looking for “teammates” in need.