April 23, 2011
The Carson Raymond Foundation unveiled its first completed project Saturday -- a baseball field built specifically for T-ball players at Woodbrook Elementary School.
"I think baseball is a wonderful sport and it gives young people a great chance to get out here and play some ball," said Brian O'Connor, coach of the University of Virginia's baseball team.
With the addition of the field, there's now a place to play ball for local kids.
"Today is awesome," said John Raymond, president of the foundation. "Today is just the culmination of a lot of hard work."
The field is the legacy of Woodbrook third-grader Carson Raymond, the son of John and his wife, Jennifer. Carson passed away in 2009 from complications of the H1N1 virus.
Now, eight T-ball teams are on deck with a field to call their own.
"What I wanted to do today was present the community with a first-class baseball field where all of its children could come and play," Raymond said.
The future all-stars warmed up with UVa. baseball players and O'Connor, all of whom have been part of the foundation's vision.
"To see all the hard work that was put in by the foundation to this field, and it's now turned into a beautiful ballfield for young people to play and play their first game on today, it's really gratifying," O'Connor said.
Carson's two brothers threw out the ceremonial first pitch, caught by his parents. It marks the culmination of a dream started more than one year ago.
"A lot of work went into it," Raymond said. "A lot of heart and soul and sweat."
After the opening ceremony, the first games took place at the new T-ball field at Woodbrook Elementary, as 18 months of hard work wrapped up.
"We're just going to continue getting kids out to play and helping them go play," Raymond said.
As the kids round the bases, the foundation promises it's not going away.
"This is only the beginning," Raymond said. "Wherever there's a need, we'll be there."
The Carson Raymond Foundation is already working on two additional baseball field projects in Albemarle County.