Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Marlins infielder Gordon helps to ‘Dee-feat Parkinson’s’

Siblings David and Melissa Blechman talk with Miami Marlins infielder Dee Gordon about their foundation’s upcoming Stolen Base Challenge to raise funds for Parkinson’s disease research.
Siblings David and Melissa Blechman talk with Miami Marlins infielder Dee Gordon about their foundation’s upcoming Stolen Base Challenge to raise funds for Parkinson’s disease research. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

April is National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and that means it’s time to help “Dee-feat Parkinson’s” through the Stolen Base Challenge organized by the Blechman Foundation.

For the second year, much-admired Miami Marlins infielder Dee Gordon will partner with the Miami-based foundation to raise awareness about Parkinson’s, the debilitating neurological disease that afflicts millions of people worldwide.

The month-long fundraiser works like this: Anyone can visit the foundation’s website to pledge support and then every base stolen by Gordon during April means funds go toward Parkinson’s research.

Gordon, the stolen-base champ, helped raise $12,000 from 80 pledges made last year.

“We could not be more proud of our association with Dee Gordon,” said David Blechman, president of the Blechman Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in a release. “Dee led the National League in stolen bases, batting average, and hits, and earned his first Gold Glove award. The Marlins also nominated Dee for a humanitarian award based on his volunteer work in the community. He is a wonderful role model for youth, both on and off the field.”

The Blechman Foundation is a grassroots, nonprofit organization with the mission to raise awareness of Parkinson’s and “provide early stage funding for pilot projects in neuroprotective research to treat PD.”

An estimated one million people live with Parkinson’s in the United States and about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed each year. Research funded by the Blechman Foundation is designed “to identify chemical agents and processes that can slow or stop the progression of PD by protecting brain cells.”

“The foundation is grateful to Dee for putting his name behind this cause,” said Melissa Blechman, vice president of Blechman Foundation. “As an athlete, Dee relies on quickness and agility. Since Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder and base stealing places a premium on moving fast, it is easy to draw a natural connection between PD awareness and Dee’s talents on the baseball diamond.”

The Blechmans are a brother and sister team, raised in Miami, who started the Foundation in 2012 after their mother, Nancy, was diagnosed with PD when she was just 50 years old.

“Baseball fans of all ages can join us to ‘help Dee steal a base for PD,’” said Melissa Blechman.

To make your April Stolen Base Challenge pledge, visit http://blechmanfoundation.org or email contact_us@blechmanfoundation.org.

DONATE USED SPORTS GEAR

Blake Miller, a senior at Palmer Trinity School, is again conducting a donation drive for used, but still functional, athletic equipment, clothes and shoes.

Blake has chaired the Patriot Outreach program for the past five years. All of the items he and his group collect are sorted, boxed and shipped to young athletes in the Higüey and Punta Cana areas of the Dominican Republic.

The boys and girls who receive the recycled items want to play sports but often simply don’t have the resources to buy the needed gear. Through Patriot Outreach, more than 70,000 items have been donated by the community to help make the children’s sports dreams come true.

The Patriot Outreach board is comprised of students from local high schools. Joining Blake on the board are Keaton Zargham, Ryan Booth, and Jett Caplin from Palmetto High School; Gio Soto of Gulliver High School; T.J. North of Westminster Christian School; and Cole Hebble, also of Palmer Trinity High School.

The drop-off location is at Suniland Park, 12855 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest. The hours for collection are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m every day through April 30. The donation drop-off box is in front of the park office.

If you have any questions, write to Blake at blakemiller1024@gmail.com.

HELP KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Kesher, the nonprofit Jewish school for children with special needs, will hold its 20th annual scholarship dinner 6 p.m. April 7 at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, 20350 NE 26 Ave., in North Miami Beach. Tickets are $136 per person.

The event will honor two trailblazing individuals: Rebecca H. Fischer, Kesher vice chair, attorney and proud mother of a Kesher student; and Diane Wander, day school educator, author and a founding member of Kesher.

Student volunteers Alexandra Mundlak, Daniela Schmutter and Aaron Traub also will be honored during the evening.

Kesher students learn in self‑contained classrooms and, when appropriate, are mainstreamed into traditional classes and campus life. Kesher is hosted at the Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami Beach, and provides staff to work with students at R.A.S.G. Hebrew Academy, Lehrman Day School and Yeshiva Toras Chaim.

The annual dinner provides much needed scholarship funds. Many of Kesher’s students receive assistance through tuition support from the Jewish Federations of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties as well as foundations and private donors.

The school is for students in first through 12th grades. To reserve your ticket or for more, call 305-792-7060 or email kesherld@bellsouth.net.

JOIN NEW NEIGHBORS

Now could be the best time of year to meet new friends through the New Neighbors Club of South Dade. The group’s mission is “to make friends of our neighbors and to create community awareness while enjoying good times.”

The next luncheon will be at 11:15 a.m., April 13 at Devon’s Seafood + Steak, 11715 Sherri Lane in the Town and Country Mall in Kendall. Cost is $23 and reservations are required. Write to ritafosse@yahoo.com or call 786-250-4849. The deadline is 6 p.m. April 10.

The group’s new executive board members will be installed at the lunch. They are: Linda Doherty, president; Susan Kershaw, first vice president for programs; Sharalynn Torres, second vice president for membership; Suzuyo Fox, corresponding secretary; Eileen Sosna, recording secretary; Barbara Hertz, treasurer; and Elaine DeLeonardis , historian.

Everyone is invited to join this long-standing nonprofit group with a wonderful support system. The annual dues are $36. For more on other club activities visit http://newneighborssouthdade.webs.com/

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at christinammayo@gmail.com.

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