By Mark Jurgena
Every year during the holiday season the Extreme Baseball & Softball club works with Children’s Home & Aid out of Granite City to provide a better Christmas for families in need.
At the end of 2020, the Extreme raised $9500 during their annual Holiday Adopt-a-Family fundraiser project. They were able to give 15 families in need a better Christmas.
“We work with Children’s Home & Aid who provides all sorts of assistance for families in need,” said Extreme Marketing Director Shelbee Snead. “Usually bigger families are the ones we take on. In years past we’ve always gotten together and given actual gifts. Our teams and our athletes got together and they would go shopping and get actual gifts for the families we adopt. But this year because of COVID we had to do gift cards. We sent cash and a bunch of gift cards and we were still able to give all of those families really good Christmases.”
Despite the effort put forth by the families of those with the Extreme, because of the nature of the charity, they are not able to personally hand their donations over to the families.
“You don’t always get to see the fruits of your labor,” began Extreme Founder Brett Swip. “You don’t always reap the rewards or win the tournament. In this circumstance, it’s not really about us. It’s not about getting that instant gratification from seeing your works. It’s about believing in a bigger mission, believing in a bigger process. It kind of fits who we are. Take care of yourself, take care of your values and the outcomes…those are God’s outputs. He’s responsible for that so it kind of fits who we are as a program.”
The idea for this charitable arm of the Extreme is a longstanding tradition with the club. It began as one of their foundational programs during its inception back in 1999. When Swip, Tom Matysik, and Pete Hoffman founded the club, they wanted their athletes to experience more than just the competitive side of athletics.
“As part of our mission to provide that holistic experience through sports, programs like the Adopt-a-Family, community clean-up days, canned food drives, those became pillars of what it meant to be in the Extreme,” said Swip. “Of course we have tons of baseball and softball field experiences, but Tom, Pete, and myself felt like that it was not only great team bonding to do service with your team, but it also lifted up the community you lived in.”
If ever there was a year when all communities needed a boost it would certainly be 2020 and all the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are so many people hurting but there’s also a lot of people that feel the desire to help,” Swip said. “That’s probably what stood out to me the most this year. Even during such a stressful time, the amount of our families that wanted to participate and support and help out was quite astonishing.”
This year’s project was spearheaded by Shannon Juenger who serves as the Extreme Vice-President and Kristy Butcher who serves as the Fundraising Director for the club. Both of them have daughters who have played with the Extreme for multiple years.
“They continue to give back and support the program and help lead many programs like this Adopt-a-Family program in our organization,” said Swip.
The Extreme, based in Collinsville, currently consists of 34 teams for males and females ages 6-18. They have over 400 athletes among their various teams.
“Our mission, the backbone of our program is the verse Proverbs 22:6 which is ‘Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart,’” Swip said. “We believe sports provide opportunities to not only enjoy the games we love but to build values in our young men and women within our community. This a perfect example of that life verse; that mission of the Extreme coming out.”
More information on Children’s Home & Aid can be found online at www.childrenshomeandaid.org. More information on the Extreme Baseball & Softball Club and their various programs can be found at www.extremepride.org.