By Pete Banda
The City of San Benito may be known for many things, both favorable and unfavorable, but as for the citizens of San Benito, there is no debating they are some of the most genuine and caring people in the entire State of Texas. Perhaps no action has warranted that distinction more than the unprecedented event that has just been put together by a handful of San Benito citizens.
Over a dozen former Major League Baseball (MLB) players are expected to come down to San Benito for a once-in-lifetime baseball training camp, aimed at helping the youth of San Benito in every aspect of baseball and/or softball. Coordinating with the Alejandro Martinez Baseball Academy, one of the premier training facilities in all of South Texas, as well as the SBYBSL, this is expected to be one of the most thorough and prestigious camps ever put together in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Camps like this, with the kind of trainers and experience we are bringing in, would run upwards of $400 for each person anywhere else,” said Alejandro Martinez, who is a former MLB player himself. “We are charging $5 per kid, and that includes a free t-shirt on top of the top-level training they will receive.”
The camp is set to take place at Stookey Park from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, January 29.
While the camp itself is intended to create a top flight experience for local kids, there is an even bigger picture at play. Every penny the camp brings in is pledged to help 5-year-old San Benito native Ayssa Mercado with her rising medical bills. Mercado suffers from a rare syndrome called MECP2 Duplication Syndrome. The genetic disorder is characterized by several intense conditions including low muscle tone, potentially severe intellectual disability, developmental delays, and involuntary muscle spasms. According to family members, Mercado must visit with three separate doctors on a daily basis.
“The original purpose behind this whole event was to help out Ayssa and her family,” said Anthony Garcia, one of the masterminds behind the event. “We were initially thinking of something kind of small with just local volunteers, but as more and more people found out, everyone wanted to come together and be a part of it… this is something very rare for the youth of San Benito to get this kind of professional talent so we’re hoping to get a good response from the community.”
In the week leading up to the camp, Garcia and his crew have garnered support from an emerging free App called “Spornado.” According to Gonzalez, for every person who downloads the app and signs up under “TeamAyssa” the Florida based company will donate a dollar to Ayssa and her family.
“It’s kind of hard to express just how big of an event this could be,” said former SBHS baseball standout Eddie Fonseca, who is now a trainer with the Alejandro Martinez Academy. “We want to hopefully make this a yearly event, but this is the first time something this big is happening in San Benito.”
Registration will take place at Stookey Park on the day of the event, Sunday, January 29. For more information, parents can contact Anthony Garcia at 956-456-3368.