During the Senior League Baseball World Series in Bangor, Maine, it’s a pretty safe bet that baseball was top of mind for most of the players from the ten teams. One player, however, Harrison Burks from West University Little League out of Houston, which represented the Southwest Region, was thinking about more than just balls and strikes. He was also focused on his friends from Saipan Little League, and what their lives would be like when they returned to the Northern Mariana Islands in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean.
During the tournament, Typhoon Soudelor devastated the region, leaving more than 20 dead, and destroying community after community.
“After talking to the kids from Saipan, especially their first basemen, Nathan, my heart went out to them, and I knew I had to do something,” Harrison, 16.
Showing true Little League® character, Harrison set up a Go Fund Me site to raise money for the Saipan team. While winning the World Series title was certainly gratifying for Burks and his teammates, he can take even more satisfaction knowing he was the driving force that raised over $3,500 for his fellow Little Leaguers, with a goal of reaching $5,000.
“I’m proud of it,” said Harrison. “Doing something like that makes you feel good about yourself. Little League teaches teamwork, and develops camaraderie. I did not do this for any reward or recognition. I just wanted to help.”
“Harrison epitomizes what Little League is all about, developing strong character and compassion, caring about the welfare of others – all qualities that help young men and women become upstanding adults,” said Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. “On behalf of everyone in the Little League family, I’d like to thank Harrison for his inspirational efforts, which we can all learn from. We send our prayers to the Saipan Little Leaguers, and their families, as well as all within the region during this difficult time.”
Despite their heavy hearts and thoughts of loved ones back home, the Saipan Little League, which represented the Asia-Pacific region, had a great run in Maine, going 2-2 in the Series. Without a doubt, the tournament was unforgettable for them, as was meeting their fellow Little Leaguer from Houston. Just days after the money was raised, Harrison got a text from Nathan which read, in part…
Bro…. I will never forget you. I don’t see you as a friend. I see you as family. Hope to see you soon.