Each year we do a fundraiser for a chosen family/person. For every homerun hit throughout the 3 day tournament we donate money to them. Here are some of past recipients stories.
In 2016, one of our long time supporters, Mike O’Donnell, formerly Middlesex HS coach and now Athletic Director, was told his 1-year-old son Shane was diagnosed with an aggressive form of neuroblastoma. After receiving aggressive chemo treatments to stop the growth of the tumors Shane is doing remarkable.
In the spirit of the game, Teamwork Unlimited Foundation challenged the players to hit a home run for Shane. For every player who hit a home run during the Autism Awareness games, a donation was given in their name an to baby Shane’s cancer fight. The players hit an amazing 20 home runs!!!
Hit a home run - Swing for the Stars.
BE SHANE’S SHINING STAR!!!
The home run challenge was so inspiring we continued it in 2017. Sadly, that year we lost a precious young lady who was very dear to our hearts, Marisa Tufaro lost her battle with her life long heart defect. Since the start of the Autism Awareness Challenge Marisa's dad Greg has been very instrumental in helping Teamwork Unlimited Foundation fulfill its goals. The Marisa Tufaro Foundation was chosen as our second year recipient for the home run challenge portion of our event. The players hit an outstanding 17 home runs in Marisa's memory.
In 2018 we were introduced to an a amazing little girl from Colonia who was fighting her own cancer battle. Sweet Julie Hildebrand is the feisty spunky pint size manager of 'Team Jules'. We are praying and sending well wishes to Julie and her family as she receives her treatments. Players brought their "A" game and hit an impressive 27 home runs sending lots of funds to help Julie in her cancer fight.
Everett & Rory Pepin
In 2019 we chose a Sayreville family with two young children, ages 1 and 3, who were battling the rare eye cancer retinoblastoma.. Through Teamwork our homerun heroes made a donation to the Pepin family to help defray medical and personal expenses associated with caring for their children, 1-year-old twin Rory (short for Lorelai) and 3-year-old Everett. Everett, who is described as a “fun-loving kid,” has been battling retinoblastoma most of his young life. After receiving chemotherapy treatment starting when he was 17 days old, his cancer is in remission. The treatments, however, have had adverse side effects, leaving Everett with hearing loss in both ears and with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rory has endured rounds of chemotherapy and is tested monthly under anesthesia to evaluate the cancer’s progress. We are happy to report both Everett & Rory are doing well.
In 2020 Teamwork Unlimited unanimously chose Joey Koslowski as our Autism Awareness challenge home run recipient. Joey is an inspirational 9-year-old boy from Jackson, who is battling a rare disorder. Joey was diagnosed over the summer with Castleman Disease, a lymphoproliferative disorder indicated by an overgrowth of cells of the lymphatic system. It is very similar to lymphomas (cancer of the lymph nodes) and autoimmune diseases. The brave boy faces a protracted and arduous battle. The Autism Awareness Baseball Community has ties to Koslowski’s parents. Koslowski’s father, Joe, graduated from Spotswood, where he previously coached multiple sports, including baseball. Koslowski’s mother, Julie, is a special education teacher with the Hamilton Township School District. The Koslowski family is overwhelmed and eternally grateful for the community support it has received. Unfortunately, the tournament was cancelled due to Covid pandemic however we still made sure to send a donation to Joey. We love watching all of Joey’s progress and success on social media. Keep choppin!!!
2021 Autism Awareness Challenge Home Run Hero is Shane Wilson of Ewing NJ (formerly of So. River). Shane is a 22-year-old young man with Autism who is now being treated for Burkitt's Leukemia, which is a type of blood cancer in which too many white blood cells form in the blood and bone marrow. His brother who is a former HS linebacker, who knows what tough looks like, describes Shane as the toughest kid he knows. He has the sweetest disposition and the hospital staff looks forward to listening for Shane to sing his happy songs. He can make you laugh when you least expect it with his contagious laugh. He is strong yet gentle and is his family's hero!!!