VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) — The American Sandlot League in Vandalia has raised more than $4,500 for the Breast Wishes Foundation to help those battling breast cancer.
They held a charity game Sunday, Oct. 22 in Vandalia at Rex Field at Jacinto Park, which Mike named in honor of his late father.
Last year, Mike Cosculluela created the field and formed the league with some of the guys he grew up with, calling his team the Sandlot of Cassel Hills.
“We’ve known each other since we were ten,” says Mike. “That bond is stronger now than it ever was.”
Roughly five decades ago, Mike and his friends started playing baseball on an old sandlot in Vandalia.
“They’re the best. They’re the absolute best. We’ve been doing this since what, late 70s?” says Tim Nightwine, one of the original Sandlot players. “There’s nothing like coming home and being with the guys. It’s the best.”
Originally brought together by friendship and the love of the game, the group was brought back together this October for a breast cancer awareness charity game.
“This field has become a place where we honor people that are with us and some that aren’t,” says Mike, tearing up. “When we decided to have this breast cancer awareness game, I thought it was only fitting that my mother who is a two-time breast cancer survivor come out here and throw out the first pitch.”
“It hits close to home. My father suffered through it. Pretty much somebody you know at some point in time has been touched by cancer,” says Tim, whose son was also diagnosed with cancer. “So, I don’t see how I not come home and support a cause like this.”
“It just blows me away, the amount of effort Mike put into this,” says Michael Jones, who was playing in the game. “It’s for a great cause. My grandmother had breast cancer. Sister-in-law—survivor.”
For the game, they teamed up with the local nonprofit Breast Wishes, which grants wishes to people who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We started Breast Wishes in 2017. I unfortunately lost my sister to breast cancer. Her name was Kelli,” says Elesha Snyder who is the founder of Breast Wishes. “Kelli was so full of life, so full of joy. She was always that person that was so happy and just really wanted to make you happy as well. So being able to share her light with others is really such an honor for me.”
Since its inception, the group has granted a variety of wishes.
“We’ve done all kinds of vacations. We’ve done spa days We’ve done really nice dinner dates. Sports games, going to baseball games or football games. And even things like appliances,” lists Snyder.
Leslie Abbey, playing in the game, was diagnosed with breast cancer about two years ago. She was one of the wish recipients.
“They granted my wish to go to California. I went to San Jose. I ran the 10K with the San Jose Rock and Roll series,” describes Abbey. “Breast Wishes flew me out there. They paid for my run ticket. They put me up in a hotel. It was just an amazing event. Something I wouldn’t have done for myself.”
“It means a lot to me. I know it means a lot to them,” says Mike.
“I feel that it is just very important for me as a 21-year breast cancer survivor to give back to the community, to help women all over,” says Debbie Fannin, who is a volunteer with Breast Wishes and Pink Ribbon Good. “Early detection is so very important. With me, it was early detection.”
Playing in the game, Kelly Krzan-Whaley grew up playing with all of the guys.
“I grew up being the first girl in the area to play boys’ baseball,” says Kelly. “It was a fight back then, but I had a lot of support.”
Pitching for the game, Kelly dedicated the game to Michele Tanney Lamphear, a breast cancer survivor.
“This game was especially important because of the meaning behind it. There’s so many people I know that have breast cancer. A lot of them have come through it. Some of them haven’t,” says Kelly.
Money from t-shirt sales, raffles and donations went directly to Breast Wishes.
Mike says this game will be the first of many.
“I never imagined it. I just wanted a place to play some baseball,” admits Mike. “In the future, I think this field will become a charity field—beyond just a bunch of old fat guys getting together and playing baseball.”
To learn more about Breast Wishes or to donate, click here.
They’re all pushing the same message—to get your mammograms and early detection is key.