Today my contribution to the Blogathon against cancer was posted on http://www.baseballcontinuum.com. This Blogathon is organized by blog owner Dan J. Glickman to raise money for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
For this first Blogathon for charity it seemed a good idea to me to write a piece on Swen Huijers’ Baseball Against Cancer foundation.
Swen signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox organization in 2008. He started to pitch for the GCL Red Sox. He played three seasons for the Boston Rookie team for which he posted a 9-4 record in 37 games. In 2011 Swen was promoted to the Lowell Spinners in the New York-Penn League (A Short Season). In that season with the Spinners, Swen posted two victories and two losses in ten games of which he started two. He finished the season with a 2.43 ERA. Despite the decent season he was released by the Red Sox. Back in the Netherlands, Swen startd to attend the police academy. That was very time consuming. Now he is a police officer, he has to deal with irregular shifts. And when you play in the Hoofdklasse, you have to practice at least twice a week. Together with three competition games per week, it was very difficult to combine. Due to the irregular shifts, his performance deteriorated. Eventually Swen decided to stop halfway the 2015 season, mainly because he could not combine his job with top sport.
Right now Swen doesn’t have time to play baseball at all. He is mainly occupied with organizing baseball clinics out of Baseball Against Cancer. If possible he wants to play baseball at a lower level
In the meantime Swen and a friend decided to participate in a big Dutch cycling event against cancer: Alpe d’HuZes. In this cycling event every participant has to cycle up to mount Alpe d’Huez, one of the biggest mountains during the Tour de France. To participate everyone needs to bring 2,500 Euros at least, which will be donated to the KWF (Koningin (=Queen) Wilhelmina Foundation), the Dutch foundation that fights against cancer. Despite pleas with friends and family they didn’t quite make it to raise the 2,500 Euros. At that point, Swen came up with the idea to raise money with a baseball clinic. 250 children attended the first edition of this clinic. These kids were taught the basics of baseball by several Dutch Hoofdklasse players, World Champions and other baseball players. This event raised the whopping amount of 4,167.25 Euro. Baseball Against Cancer was born.
But why did Swen decide to participate in Alpe dHuZes? His cousin is an ex cancer patient. He started to do voluntary work for the event Alpe d’HuZes, and arranged the yearly transportation. Other family members also traveled to France, to help in this magnificent event. Because Swen was playing baseball for the Red Sox organization at the time that the event took place, he made a vow that he would participate as soon as he had the chance. That chance came in 2012 after he was released by the Red Sox, when he could enlist for the 2013 edition of Alpe d’Huzes.
The second edition of Baseball Against Cancer drew even a lot more children. In the brand new baseball facility of Vaessen Pioniers from Hoofddorp, Swen’s hometown team, 275 children attended the event under the watchful eye of more baseball players. At the end of the day, over 8,000 Euro could be handed over to the KWF.
In 2015, Swen’s event even got bigger and even got the much deserved attention in the Dutch media as he was invited for an interview on Dutch national radio. The players that participated in that event were all Dutch Hoofdklasse (Major League) players like: Bas Nooij, Eric de Vries, Nick & Tom Stuifbergen, Sidney de Jong, Pim Walsma, Kevin Weijgertse, Bayron Cornelisse, Danny Rombley, Vince Rooi, David Bergman, Scott Ronnebergh, Sedley Karel, Damian Melis, Zerzinho Croes, Jasper de Jong and Lars Huijer. But next to these players, also young players that took the clinics in the first edition, now participate as instructors.
As far as Swen concerns, the media intention was nice for the battle against cancer. Not for the recognition. Swen just wants to collect as much money as possible for the battle against cancer.
In the Dutch baseball world there is much demand for events in which children can participate. Swen managed to organize a successful event.
A little step back to his participation in the Alpe d’HuZes event: On my question if he managed to climb the mountain six times, Swen answered that it was never his intention to do that. He drove up the mountain on a mountain bike instead of a racing bike, which makes it much harder. The night before the event he got very ill. On the day itself, he carried a backpack with two bottles of water and two canteens. About halfway up the mountain he drank all of his water supply. In the fifth curve of the climb, he was bothered by cramps in his thighs. He had to stretch for about fifteen minutes before he could finish the climb to the top.
This year the Baseball Against Cancer event will take place for the fourth time. It will take place on May 3 and 4. For the first time in the history of the event there will be a softball edition as well, which will take place on May 3. The baseball edition will be on May 4. So far, Swen only had time to organize the softball part. He does this in cooperation with Golden League player (Dutch Hoofdklasse Softball) Ginger de Weert. Next to her the following softball players will participate in the clinic as an instructor: Karen Tuk, Kirsten Scheele, Sophie Molee and Rebecca Soumeru.
Baseball nut born and raised in Amsterdam. Played for the oldest baseball club in Europe (AHC Quick, founded in 1913). Writer for Universo Beisbol (Cuban baseball magazine), for the website of the KNBSB (Dutch baseball and softball federation) and my own blog www.yankeebiscuitfansdutchblog.mlblogs.com.
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