By: Alyson Kay
Mamma Lucia’s in Silver Spring will host a fundraiser this evening to support the efforts of Debbie Ryan and Eric Saul, who are part of a team that is going to Cuba to play baseball and give baseball gear school supplies and medical supplies to Cuban baseball players and children. Mamma Lucia’s will give 20 percent of sales to the cause from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The organization that will be hosting the tournament is a Canadian charity called Caribbean Baseball Goodwill Tours, which sends Canadian and American baseball players and enthusiasts to Cuba to play baseball during the winter and give supplies to players in Cuba who have the talent, but don’t have the equipment to play.
Saul’s passion for supporting youth baseball in Cuba has its origins in a trip to the country he took as an architecture student during college in 2001. He played baseball in college and continues to enjoy the sport today. While on the trip, he saw Cuban people playing the sport despite not having some of the equipment needed for it. Some of the kids that Saul saw playing didn’t have shoes or gloves to play with. Seeing the kids playing without equipment made Saul want to help.
“I always thought ‘I wish I had brought an old baseball glove or something to give to somebody,” said Saul.
Saul got his wish when he found out about Caribbean Goodwill Baseball Tours after the embargo was dropped.
“I immediately sort of jumped on it,” Saul said.
Saul’s team is one of eight teams going on the trip at the end of the tournament.
This team, which comprises of people from the Silver Spring and Bethesda area, will be one of the first groups of Americans to do this tournament since the Cuban embargo was lifted. The American teams are from all over the eastern part of the US, including Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York. According to Saul, a team goes out every week. The first teams started going two weeks ago.
The team isn’t just going to be sending baseball equipment.
Caribbean Goodwill also encourages teams to send school supplies such as pencils and notebooks to give to Cuban children during the trip. The team is also sending day to day medical supplies such as band aids and bandages.
The organization doesn’t specify how much of each type of supplies to bring and leaves it up to the teams. According to Saul, it’s difficult to know what percentage of which type of supplies will be sent, but they are planning on sending a little bit of everything. According to an email, the team is also bringing candy to give to young fans during the trip.
In order to go on the tournament, Saul and Ryan need to get at least 600 pounds of equipment and send it to Cuba. The fundraiser will help raise the money to pay the airline costs to get the equipment to Cuba along with the team, which will cost an estimated $600.
Despite the expense, Saul is confident that they will get the money for the equipment before the tournament.
“I think in the end,” Saul said, “we’re going to bring probably more than 600 pounds.”