Home runs net $50,000 for Duluth organization
Nearly a dozen home runs at the Major League Baseball All-Star game in July caused a Duluth organization to receive $50,000 overnight.
“This was a significant donation and totally unexpected,” said Todd Johnson, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland. “We are so appreciative of this donation, and we are proud to support the Major League Baseball team.”
Boys and Girls Club members from various Minnesota locations were paired with baseball players during the mid-July All-Star game at Target Field in Minneapolis. The baseball player who hit the most home runs would win that particular member’s Boys and Girls Club $50,000 for renovations.
Members Aaron Lonetto, 17, and Nate Johnson, 13, from the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland-Dave Goldberg Family Branch, were selected as the two students to represent the Duluth branches.
“The kids (Johnson and Lonetto) were picked on exemplary behavior and participation at the clubs,” Todd Johnson said. “Plus, officials wanted kids with baseball knowledge and over the age of 12.”
Nate Johnson was paired with Oakland Athletics baseball player Yoenis Cespedes, and Lonetto was paired with Baltimore Orioles baseball player Adam Jones. Cespedes hit the most home runs, earning the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland the grand prize.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland plans to put the donation money toward their renovation capital project.
The organization plans to install a new performance theater, a music and audio studio, a snack bar/café similar to a coffeehouse, and an area for students to study and complete their homework.
“It was once-in-a lifetime opportunity for the kids to interact with the ball players,” Todd Johnson said. “They were so excited. The kids got to take home a batting helmet, official baseball cap and shirt.”
The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland serve 3,500 kids between ages 6 and 18 in the Duluth, Superior and Iron Range areas. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America became the official MLB charity in 1997.