Support for the families of Petaluma National Little League all stars continues to roll in, including several four-digit donations and a biggie – $15,000 – pledged Wednesday by Comcast SportsNet, the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.
The families of Petaluma's 13 boys playing today in the 66th Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., were daunted by the significant expenses for flying to the East Coast and staying as long as 10 days to watch their boys play out their baseball dreams.
Some families wondered if they could swing the trip financially, given other commitments and complications with their jobs back home.
But the response from Sonoma County and beyond has been quick and generous.
The community has stepped up to bat, holding bake sales, T-shirt sales, restaurant fund-raisers and a benefit showing of the boys' first game today at noon at Boulevard Cinema for a $15 donation.
Petaluma National Little League board members set a goal of $60,000 to help the families defray the costs. Donations haven't been tallied yet, board members said, but with the pledges made public so far, it appears they are nearly halfway there.
"Awesome. That is great news!" said Wayne Douglas, who with his wife, Laura, was boarding a flight Wednesday to see their son, Logan, play. "That is huge."
Locals put the word out, asking their friends and associates for donations. Petaluma native and A's player Jonny Gomes offered his help and asked Major League Baseball to pitch in too.
On Wednesday, the A's, the Giants and Comcast SportsNet, which broadcasts Bay Area cable TV, announced they had combined for a $15,000 donation to the family fund.
The Douglases have three other boys who are about to start school. With the financial uncertainties of the trip, they decided to have Logan's brothers stay home.
"Trying to get down to San Bernardino (for the regional tournament) was a stretch for some of the families," Wayne Douglas said. "Now, with back-to-back travel expenses hitting you, especially for families, it's been rough. Having this outpouring with all these local people and companies helping us, it's overwhelming. I just can't express the gratitude."
Gomes nudged the A's to help out in addition to a personal donation of new equipment he is giving to the boys.
"It's our privilege to assist this great, young team as they chase their dreams in Williamsport," said Ken Pries, the A's vice president of broadcasting and communications.
"As a proud native of Petaluma, our own Jonny Gomes has been their No. 1 fan since the tournament started and we're happy to join in his support of the team, as well as Comcast SportsNet and the Giants."
Also Wednesday, Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, whose district includes Petaluma, announced donations of $5,000 from Jackson Family Wines and $1,000 each from the John Jordan Foundation and North Bay Corp., Petaluma's garbage hauler.
"My family has been following the story for a while," said Jackson Family Wines spokeswoman Katie Jackson. "We were thrilled to help out, even if it's in a really small way. It's an incredible accomplishment for the boys and we think it's great to be able to help their families be able to celebrate with them."
Also, $1,250 has been pledged by Rip City Riders, a 150-member motorcycle club in Sonoma County that plans to present a check to the league president today at the theater before the game.