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Celebrity Softball Helps Raise Money for Boys and Girls Clubs

Jim Ellison Candidate ad TOPCelebrity Jacks AdSoftball Helps Raise Money for Boys and Girls Clubs

(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 11, 2016)

Ferndale, MI –  Abraham Lincoln taking a selfie.  Boxing legend Thomas “the Hitman Herns” sitting in the bullpen of the neighborhood park watching local TV anchors playing softball with 1968 Detroit Tiger Ike Blessit and Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison.  TV personalities trading in their cameras for leather gloves and bats.  Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel hitting home runs.  Dean Bach, owner of Dino’s Lounge, gracefully running the bases. Spiderman dinos02sidelogo3doing photobombs.

This is the kind of thing locals call “Ferndale Normal.”  And the fun happens once a year for the annual Celebrity Softball Game at Martin Road Park in Ferndale to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland and Macomb Counties.

This year’s event was sponsored by Garden Fresh founder Jack Aronson’s new company Clean Planet Foods, and featured some of his delicious new proteins.  RE BBQ was also on hand with pulled pork, brisket and picnic sides.  And youngsters sold lemonade for donations to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

As various teams of firefighters, police, political figures, entrepreneurs, the guys at Team Hollis, and royal_servicescelebrities enjoyed some friendly games of softball, kids played on inflatables and people enjoyed coming together for a nice, social afternoon.

“This week this is what makes America matter,” said Boys and Girls Clubs Director Brett Tillander.  “This is what heals us.  And at the Boys and Girls Clubs great futures are started because you guys answered the call, the Clean Planet Foods and the Dinos, and everybody else who’s here celebrating what makes this place work.”

The event raised over $20,000 to help fund a program that gives kids many tools they need for a great future, including supervision, a support system, and learning the value of responsibility by growing as leaders and helping younger kids.

baby modern natural 01 adNoah Suit, the Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year for 2016 took the field with the other dignitaries, proud to represent his club.  Suitt attends Lamphere High School in Madison Heights and goes to the Jack and Patti Salter Unit in Royal Oak where he works as junior staff. For Suitt, the Boys and Girls Club was part of an overall system of support.

He’d been going to the club for over ten years, with a determination to play the various sports offered. “I’ve broken a few bones at the club,” he said at a previous Boys and Girls Club event where he spoke to a gym packed with people. Among the first broken bones happened while playing basketball. He was learning how to do layups when he jumped for the shot and came down with enough force to shatter his knee.

When that happened, people he knew from the club visited him in the hospital instead of just forgetting about him.garden16_amber lamay_june2016

Suitt has Osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as “brittle bone disease.” While he does not let the disease define him, or stop him, it is a reality that he’s grown up with. His years at the Boys and Girls Club have given him an extra layer of support. “I’ve always had a very strong support system,” he said. “The club has given me the opportunity to be around people who forget about the disease. They really listen when it’s time to listen, and I carry that over with me as a staff member.”

He plays sports and pushes himself in spite of the risk of fractures. “I’m the ChamberAd_02type of person [who feels like] you always got to come back stronger.”

After graduation Suitt hopes to build a career in broadcast journalism, so playing with local celebrities like Amy Andrews, Lee Thomas, Alan Longstree, Bill McCallister, Jeff Rieger, Peter Nielson, and Lila Lazarus was especially a memory-maker for the 17-year-old.

To learn more about the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland Macomb Counties visit  If you’d like to donate to the organization go to

Check out pictures from 2014 at

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