Naperville teams put aside baseball rivalry for good cause
As sophomores Jacob Scharm and Kyle Steele put their feet in the fire of the Naperville North-Naperville Central baseball rivalry.
A year later they've cooled off for a good cause.
Naperville North's Scharm and the Redhawks' Steele have combined forces to make the most of a junior season lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. "There's no place like home" is a monthlong fundraiser designed to donate money to the Naperville Education Foundation's Kid Booster Crisis Fund.
With friends from the past, present and future, the goal is to bring some good to a frustrating spring. The duo still sees an opportunity to create memories for the 2020 season.
"When the season was canceled, it brought a perfect opportunity," Scharm said. "How could we make this time worth something?"
Every week during May, new items are raffled in an effort spearheaded by Steele and Scharm, who got to know each other last season through their parents. The pitchers faced off against each other on the mound during the DuPage Valley Conference tournament.
"We wanted to give back to the community," Steele said. "This is a good way to bring everyone together."
At the $50 raffle ticket level, winners claim dinner from Belgio's and dessert from DeEtta's. For $250, a third-to-eighth grader can be an honorary team captain for Naperville Central or Naperville North during the 2021 season.
For the $100 raffle tickets, familiar faces chipped in. Kansas City Royals second baseman Nicky Lopez, a Redhawks graduate, and the Texas Rangers' Nick Solak, from Naperville North, donated signed bats and jerseys.
With a week to go, "There's no place like home" has raised nearly $5,000.
"We wanted to show people that Naperville North and Central could come together for the community," Scharm said. "We thought this was a great way to do it."
The NEF's Kid Booster Crisis Fund supports Naperville Community Unit District 203 students by providing help with food, clothing, housing and other expenses. While many families rely on the fund every year, the available resources are especially strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steele and Scharm found the perfect way for students to help students.
"Growing up I never realized so many people in the community were struggling," Steele said. "It's eye-opening. It feels great to help out."
The fundraiser closes this week with the raffle for Lopez and Solak signed jerseys. To donate or buy raffle tickets, visit https://nef203.org/baseball/.
"We want to raise as much money as possible," Scharm said. "It's such a great cause."