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Adenhart still helping Williamsport

May 18, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Janet Gigeous, second from left, presents a $5,000 check from the Nick Adenhart Foundation to Williamsport Booster Club president Mike Starliper to help support the Wildcats baseball program. Joining in the ceremony are Williamsport assistant coach David Warrenfeltz, left, who was Adenhart's catcher in high school, and Williamsport coach Larnie Vickers.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

WILLIAMSPORT -- Baseball meant the world to Nick Adenhart.

Now his family is trying to make sure his world will remain intact through the Nick Adenhart Foundation.

Janet Gigeous, Adenhart's mother, continued that quest Monday when she presented a $5,000 check to Williamsport High School booster club president Mike Starliper to add a helping hand to the Wildcats baseball program.

"There are a lot of great memories here for us," Gigeous said. "This is bittersweet. Nick used to look forward to his games here and this is where he had the most fun playing with his friends and the coaches here.

"We want to make donations to places where the money will go to helping the kids. This is a great place. I went to school here. We wanted to cover Little Leagues, but this was the first high school."

The Nick Adenhart Foundation is a fund created after the former Williamsport High School star and Los Angeles Angels pitcher was killed in a three-car accident in Fullerton, Calif., last year. The fund is earmarked to make donations to "grassroots" baseball programs, including Little Leagues and struggling programs, to help keep youth baseball alive.

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"This is an honor for the family to give this to us," said Starliper. "It is quite a sum of money and we hope to use it to honor the legacy that Nick started here. He put us on the map. You don't talk about Williamsport baseball and not have Nick's name mentioned."

Starliper said the money would be used for the baseball program, but wasn't sure just where yet. It will be a welcome addition, though, for coach Larnie Vickers, who was student teaching when Adenhart was pitching as a Wildcat.

"He put so much time and effort in to baseball and this program," Vickers said. "This is where his dream came alive and proved to kids that they can come from a small town and make it to the major leagues. Now, this is adding to his legacy because he is helping kids to keep that going with this money that will go to equipment and other things they need to keep playing."

The fund continues to grow and the money is being used in many places to keep Adenhart's world spinning.

"We have been able to make some interesting donations," Gigeous said.

Gigeous said money has been coming from various sources. The Angels and other players have contributed, while Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia raised money at a golf tournament and the Baltimore Orioles wives kicked in with a fundraiser.

Locally, money will be raised by the Nick Adenhart 5K Run and Walk on June 12 at Martin Snook Park. Gigeous and the "Adenhart family athletes" are planning to participate.

The foundation started its work by donating $5,000 each to Halfway Little League and the Hagerstown PONY League, the two organizations where Adenhart got his start in baseball.

Gigeous said donations will continue, many to areas that helped and touched Adenhart during his short career. Those include:

* St. Frances Academy -- The Gigeouses attended the Southern Maryland Baseball Camp and met St. Frances coach Brian Boles, who knew Adenhart when he pitched at St. Maria Goretti. St. Frances was starting a baseball program and a donation was made to help it purchase a batting cage.

* Be Perfect -- An organization started by Hal Hargrave, a former pitcher who suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed in a truck accident. Courtney Stewart, who died in the accident with Adenhart, was involved with the organization, which was created to financially help spinal cord injury victims.

* The Little Leagues in California where Jon Wilhite and Henry Pearson played. Pearson also died and Wilhite was the only survivor in Adenhart's car from the crash.

* The foundation will be contributing to the Little Leagues where Adenhart's minor league roommates played. Donations will be given to the leagues of Bobby Wilson (Florida), Brad Koon (Cleveland) and Ben Johnson (Seattle).

Adenhart's number will be retired by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels, the Angels Single-A Midwest League affiliate, this summer. Adenhart's family will attend the ceremony and plans to donate money to the Cedar Rapids-area Little Leagues, who are rebuilding their fields after flooding two years ago.

"These are all personal for us because they are part of Nick," Gigeous said. "He touched each of these people and we wanted to keep their organizations going. There will always be leagues in need. We will go with this as long as the contributions come in."

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