The Bolden Little League is in a frantic race to raise over $20,000 after a fire destroys all of the team’s gear.
The baseball league, which does not charge any registration fees, gives equipment to any child who needs it. But a fire last summer at the league’s storage facility destroyed new uniforms, sticks, gloves, helmets and a new set of $300 bases, league president Mario Berlanga said Sunday.
More than 100 children have already signed up for the 2022 season, which Berlanga hopes will start training on March 1. The season opener is scheduled for April 9.
“Now we have to start from scratch,” Berlanga said. “There were brand new uniforms. This year, I was eight sets ahead. We have lost everything.
Berlanga took the list of destroyed items to Turf Sporting Goods, where he usually buys team gear. Damage was estimated at $23,000.
“In a league that you don’t charge, that $23,000 is a lot of money,” he said.
He started the league with former Bolden Area Commander Captain Robert Plummer in 2016 to bridge the gap between the community and his police department in an area where racial remarks and police brutality have fostered mistrust. Berlanga, who grew up in the historic Westside neighborhood and owns Mario’s West Side Market, said he’s watched the community’s relationship with Metro and seen a drastic improvement over the past few years.
The league is named after the late Larry Bolden, who was the first black man to rise to the rank of Deputy Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. He died in 2000, nine years after retiring after a 33-year career.
Subway officers and community volunteers make up the coaching staff.
Berlanga said he has received offers of help from the LVMPD Foundation and Clark County sheriff candidate Kevin McMahill, but is worried about raising money in time for the season.
Last season, renting the courts cost $11,500 and buying new uniforms cost another $9,000.
Anyone interested in donating can contact Maurilioberlanga@icloud.com. Berlanga has requested that all checks be made payable to Bolden Little League.
Contact Sabrina Schnur at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0278. To follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter. Review-Journal editor Alexis Ford contributed to this report.