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Article updated: 12/3/2012 10:38 AM

Libertyville travel team hosts unique fundraiser for New Year's

By Mick Zawislak

When 2012 became official, Dara Dietmeyer wasn't awake to celebrate.

"I was in Florida. I cooked dinner for my grandparents and went to bed," said the Libertyville resident and baseball mom. "I haven't stayed awake until midnight in I don't know how long."

Coffee will be in order when that habit is shattered -- by a long shot -- this coming New Year's Eve as Dietmeyer and a team of chaperones shepherd as many as 200 kids in fifth through eighth grade through a 13-hour bash lasting until 8 a.m. Jan. 1.

Dietmeyer and Colleen Scopacasa, whose sons play on the Libertyville Wildcats 12U Orange baseball team, are coordinating the all-nighter to be held on the entire first floor of the cavernous Libertyville Sports Complex.

The impetus was to raise $12,000 for the team's weeklong trip next summer to Cooperstown, N.Y., for a tournament in which the team will play others from across the country. The travel team of kids 12 and under is part of the Libertyville Youth Baseball League.

The open invitation party is touted as a community event -- an activity-packed evening for kids and a getaway opportunity for parents.

"We don't want to put out our hands and say, 'We're going to Cooperstown, give us some money,'" Scopacasa explained. "We weren't trying to focus on this being a fundraiser, but a really fun event."

Several businesses have contributed goods or services and several area school districts have posted information for the event in virtual backpacks or community news, organizers said.

Though not a first at the village-owned facility, the overnight event is unique in that it is open to the public, albeit for a price. The $60 admission includes food and drinks and an array of activities, including the signature climbing wall and organized sports such as basketball, dodgeball, soccer, flag football and whiffle ball. Siblings are an additional $40 each.

The set up also will include separate activity rooms for girls and boys, as well as board games, a DJ, dancing, movies and a gaming room.

"We've got five TVs, two Xboxes, two Wiis and a PlayStation 2," Dietmeyer noted during a recent visit with Scopacasa to the 110,000-square-foot facility. It has hosted overnight events -- including on New Year's Eve -- since it opened 10 years ago. There are about four or five such events in a given year, mainly from church, youth or other groups that use it as a private activity, according to Randy Splitt, facility manager.

For example, the Greater Libertyville Soccer Association in March of 2011 held a continuous soccer game fundraiser from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. Post-prom gatherings and the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life are other examples of late-night users.

"The challenge when you bring the groups in here is hitting the market for everybody," Splitt said. Scheduling activities for fifth- through eighth-graders will be easier than for some other age groups, he added.

Activities will depend on the number of participants and are being finalized. They likely will include announcements regarding the New Year arriving in various time zones and a balloon drop at midnight. About 20 adults, including three village staffers, will supervise.

The group got a break on the rental price but will be paying direct costs, such as salaries.

The event will become a test of sorts as similar overnight events could become part of the regular programming. The village for the first time also is considering opening the fitness center and holding an open gym on New Year's Day.

The youthful overnight visitors will bring sleeping bags but they likely won't be needed.

"There's only been one group that we've actually structured time to go to sleep," Splitt said.

For questions or to register email ddietmeyer@comcast.net or colleen.scopacasa927@gmail.com or visit [URL]www.facebook.com/LibertyvilleAllnighter;[URL].[/URL]

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