Kade Dylan Contreras spent much of his young life at baseball and football fields, watching siblings and family members play, and anticipating the day when he would finally get to play.
On Christmas Eve 2017, his life was cut short when he was tragically killed in the collapse of a treehouse. He was only 4.
With grandparents Neil and Linda Stuckey and parents Roy and Courtney Contreras managing local sports leagues, and older siblings and family members on teams, Kade was a fixture at Cleveland Municipal Park, often hanging out in the concession stand with his grandma.
Following his death, a charity called Play for Kade was set up in his memory to help young athletes pay for sign-up fees and expenses who otherwise would not have been able to play.
“A lot of good has come from his young life. The whole purpose of Play for Kade is to keep his memory alive and to continue paying registration fees for local youth. Right now, it’s limited to Cleveland sports – Cleveland Youth Baseball Association and Cleveland Community Football – but we want to be able to start helping our neighbors in Splendora, Tarkington and Shepherd,” said Bethany Porter, one of the organizers of Playing for Kade.
The organization, which is now working to get established as a 501c3 non-profit, sponsored six children for football and 14 for baseball and softball this year. Porter said soccer sign-ups were held Saturday, Sept. 1, and she expects to hear from the soccer league regarding the number of children needing sponsorship.
“Baseball and cheer seasons start at the end of November or the beginning of December,” Porter said. “We want to help as many kids as we can. We are very fortunate this year because we are seeing kids who never played before,” she said.
Enrollment fees for the sports leagues, coupled with the costs for uniforms and gears, can make it impossible for some families on already-tight budgets. Play for Kade is a blessing for those families, Porter believes.
To raise money for the charity, a slow-pitch softball tournament is being planned for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20, at Cleveland Municipal Park. Anyone age 16 or older is welcome to play. Teams of 10-12 players will be comprised of men and women. If the team has only 10 players, it must have at least three women.
Currently there is space for only four more teams. Ten teams have already registered. The fee per team is $200 and all proceeds go toward Playing for Kade.
The first game on Friday will start at 7 p.m. with games continuing at 8 and 9 p.m. The next round of games will be played on Saturday morning starting at 8 a.m. The games are one-hour in this double-elimination tournament.
“In order to be knocked out of the tournament, a team has to lose two games,” Porter said. “We will have games going on at both fields on each day.”
Prizes will be awarded to all the players on the first, second and third-place teams. Third-place teammates will receive a Play for Kade T-shirt; second-place winners will receive a Play for Kade insulated cup; first-place teammates will receive both a cup and a T-shirt.
For supporters who wish to purchase T-shirts and home run bracelets, they will be available at the concession stand. T-shirts, ranging in size from youth small to adult 4X, in colors of blue, red or black, will be available for $15 each. Home run bracelets are $10 each. There is no admission fee to watch the games.