PITTSFIELD, Mass. — From Major Leaguers in Boston to Little Leaguers in the Berkshires, the Jimmy Fund has long been associated with baseball.
But as far as anyone can tell, there has not been anything quite like what Joe DiCicco has planned for June 19 at Clapp Park.
DiCicco is inviting players of all ages and all abilities to participate in an all-day game at Buddy Pellerin Field to raise money for cancer research and patient care at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
"The folks at Dana-Farber were not positive, but they think it could be the first time ever someone has done something like this in New England," DiCicco said on Tuesday. "I got the idea in February. I was watching the 'Today' show, and they did a story about a 48-hour hockey game to benefit cancer."
DiCicco did not think he could pull off a multi-day event — at least not the first time out of the gate — but the cause was near and dear to him.
"My wife died, it will be 21 years that Monday [June 21]," DiCicco said. "We went to Dana-Farber, and she loved Dana-Farber."
DiCicco combined that love with his passion for sports to create Striking Out Cancer in the Berkshires, an all-day game that will run from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with different players rotating in throughout the day.
By early spring, he had the approval of the city and the link to the Jimmy Fund, which has been raising funds to fight cancer since 1948 and is the official charity of the Boston Red Sox, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Pan-Mass Challenge bicycle tour and hundreds of other fundraisers throughout New England each year.
DiCicco said he took a low-key approach to spreading the word about the fundraiser, relying on posts on his Facebook page. He was surprised with the results; as of Tuesday morning, close to 40 players had signed up to participate in the game.
"Anybody can play," he said. "I'm playing, and I'm in my 60s. We've got 12 to 15 people in their 60s playing for a couple of innings."
DiCicco is asking players to contribute $10 to the Jimmy Fund, and he will welcome new players right up until the day of the event, but he would rather have folks sign up in advance to figure out times of day when they will play.
"We don't want 20- and 30-year-olds playing with 60-year-olds," DiCicco said. "Hopefully they can play their own age groups. The 60s, what we'll call the old-timers, will start it off at around 9:30. Then we'll go from there. We'll play for an hour and a half or so and then the next group will play and so on.
"If people want to play more than two innings, that's fine with me."
DiCicco said he will have water on site for the players, and local real estate agent Steve Ray has donated T-shirts for the event. DiCicco said sponsorships are available through the end of the week for businesses who want to have their names included on the back of the T-shirt for $50 or $100.
This is DiCicco's first time running an event like this, so he is not sure what to expect. But based on the early results, he is encouraged.
"I'd like to get 100 people out there, but it's the first time," he said. "It's been working so far. I'm very surprised, to be honest with you."
Striking Out Cancer in the Berkshires will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, at Clapp Park in Pittsfield. To sign-up to play or be a business sponsor, contact Joe DiCicco at 518-390-2512 or email@example.com. To donate to the event, visit its page on the Dana-Farber Jimmy Fund page here.
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Berkshire NAACP President Reflects on Juneteenth Origins, Plans Rally
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Juneteenth was celebrated Saturday for the first time as a local, state, and national holiday.
The city of Pittsfield added the holiday to its municipal roster in May, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill making Juneteenth a state holiday last July, and President Biden signed a bill making it a national holiday on Thursday.
Berkshire NAACP President Dennis Powell spoke to iBerkshires about the origins of the date and its implications in modern-day society.
Though he is glad to see it adopted nationally, Powell expressed mixed feelings about Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery and has been celebrated in some parts of the country as Emancipation Day.
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