FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Grief support organization Erin’s House tapped into a big name in baseball for their Common Bond fundraiser held at Parkview Field.
Usually, Common Bond is a morning fundraiser for Erin’s House inside the Memorial Coliseum, but due to the pandemic, they moved the event outdoors at Parkview Field and held it in the evening. The move allowed them to better adjust to pandemic restrictions for large gatherings.
“Tin Caps have helped us with social distancing with how people are seated, people are cleaning the bathrooms every half hour,” said Erin’s House Exec. Director Debbie Meyer. “We have cleaning stations, everybody has their masks on.”
The money raised from the event goes to support their services and programming for grieving families. Meyer said in a way, the change of venue was perfect because their keynote speaker was former professional baseball player and sports broadcaster Roberto Clemente Jr. Clemente lost his father, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente, to a plane crash when he was seven years old. Clemente said he could have used a place like Erin’s House in the aftermath of his father’s death.
“I needed a place like Erin’s House growing up, there’s no doubt, ” said Clemente. “It’s very tough. You’re very empty, you’re in a place that sometimes can go dark, like for me, so having a support network like they provide is priceless.”
Clemente spoke to the crowd about his experience dealing with the loss of his father. He hoped that people would walk away with a deeper understanding of what kind of impact the support that Erin’s House offers can have on children.
While Erin’s House glad to be able to hold the event at all, the crowd was expected to be only about 300 people, about half of the typical size of the event. That smaller crowd means a hit to the donations total that Common Bond pulls in.
“We rely on special events to keep Erin’s House going and so it’s a difficult year,” said Meyer.
To help offset the loss of donations, Meyer said they have applied for grants and also have tried to increase the number of individual donations they get outside of fundraisers like Common Bond.