Kamiak baseball player pitches in for Cuba
Kamiak senior Brent Haub, 18, has very little in common with 64-year-old Michael Kagan of Tacoma. One is young, one is older. One is clean-cut, the other has a long white beard.
But what these two men have in common is their love for baseball and desire to help the poor. Haub has played baseball since he was 3 years old, Kagan started at age 52.
Haub, who plays on the Kamiak boys varsity baseball team, recently organized an equipment drive called Pitch In For Cuba. He collected dozens of baseballs, bats, cleats, helmets and catcher's gear that were taken to Cuba as part of a Sister City International humanitarian trip.
"I heard of this effort through Michael Kagan, a man in my dad's baseball league (Puget Sound Senior Baseball League)," Haub said. "I knew he went to Cuba every year. I also knew that my family had a lot of old gear in our garage.
“I figured, if we did, then most guys on the Kamiak teams probably did too."
Haub contacted Kagan to find out how he could help. All he had to do was collect items and get them to Tacoma before April 11. Haub got to work immediately, sending emails to everyone in the Kamiak baseball program.
"The guys on the team were so generous, and Mr. Kagan was really happy when he saw how much stuff was collected," said Haub, who developed a desire to help those in need by volunteering to deliver Christmas presents to families struggling financially in Mukilteo and South Everett, through St. Vincent de Paul.
"When you see kids faces light up when you bring in big bags of gifts, it makes you feel really good. I know that the kids in Cuba were just as happy when they got this gear. I wish I could see it."
The gear landed in Cienfuegos, Cuba on April 18. Cienfuegos is a Sister-City of Tacoma.
"It's a beautiful city, but the kids there are so impoverished,” Kagan said. “This effort brings so much goodwill. We have so much in the United States and they have so little. They can't just go to Big 5 or Sports Authority to pick up gear."
Together Kagan and Haub collected more than 150 pounds of baseball gear. An amount like that costs a small fortune to put on an airplane. This trip cost Kagan more than $3,000, but he said it is worth it.
"I love baseball and I want to help kids in countries who have nothing, to have the same opportunities I had," he said.
These items not only allow young Cubans to have the gear they need to play ball, some of it will also be traded for Cuban hats and jerseys that will go in an annual auction for Cenfuegos.
Through the auction, Sister City International has been able to help with water, sewers, hurricane relief and many more services.