An annual fundraiser for the Liberty High School Panthers varsity baseball program keeps hitting it out of the park each year, with organizers relocating the event as it continues to grow in popularity and support. The sixth annual event, held Feb. 4, was moved this year to the Dayton Community Center with all 40 sponsored tables selling out, according to John Hebert Jr., one of the founders of the fundraiser.
After all the bills were paid and the silent and live auction proceeds were tallied, the baseball program netted $26,057.80. Hebert said the money will used to supplement the small budget of the baseball program.
“The school budget is very small for baseball. They weren’t able to pay for training equipment or workout facilities, and they used the fields at the city park. A couple of years ago, the school district made arrangements to take over some of the operations of the baseball park, which enabled us to make improvements to the fields,” Hebert said. “We installed a new backwall, make improvements to the dugouts, added new pitching machines – one for the batting cage and one for the field, and added some rollaway backstops.”
Hebert is hoping the fundraisers will continue to garner support from the community in the future, so the improvements and upgrades can continue.
“Baseball season starts at the end of January, so it’s hard to get on the fields a lot of the times because of the conditions. It’s the nastiest part of the year. We are trying to get an indoor facility built with batting cages and turf that both the boys and girls can share. Our hope is for this to be built on the campus. It will be a combination of money we raise and the school district funding,” Hebert said. “We currently have about $50,000 in our account. We are building a nest egg to use. If we can achieve this, it will solve a lot of problems for the players. They can get in there and practice their throwing. If they do it now, they are forced to use the gym, and they have to worry about messing up the floor.”
All of the funding goes into the Liberty Athletic Booster Club account, which provides financial oversight.
LISD Superintendent Dusty McGee, who attended the event, marveled over the community support for the young athletes.
“What it means to be a small town, I think you see it right here. I taught in Galena Park and La Porte for a long time before coming to Liberty. There is just a difference when you live in a small town. When you bring out, literally, a whole community to support what you do, it’s amazing. Our kids never have to worry if the adults are behind them,” McGee said. “For the athletes, sometimes when you go out to practice, you might wonder if you want to keep on running or if you want to keep on competing when times get hard. Just think back to tonight and realize that you represent a whole town that is proud of you. I think that’s what it means to be a Panther.”