The Valpo Parks Foundation “Leaders Giving Back” Campaign that led the efforts to renovate Tower Park basketball courts and baseball field is now moving into the next stage to improve our parks and park programs. Just as Tower Park was initiated by lead gifts from Robbie Hummel, Jeff Samardzija and the Samardzija family, this next campaign is also being championed by a former Valparaiso scholar athlete, Dave Lebryk. Lebryk, who resides and works in the greater Washington, D.C. area, approached Valpo Parks about giving back to his hometown and wanting to honor one of his mentors, coach, and teacher Charles “Biff” Geiss.
Biff Geiss taught and coached in the Valparaiso Community School system for 40 years. During the summers, he coached a baseball instructional league for Valpo Parks for 28 years. Biff is highly regarded by many who cherish his unique way of connecting with kids and teaching the fundamentals of baseball and sports that made growing up in Valparaiso such a positive experience.
The 7-8-year-old baseball league will now be renamed the Biff Geiss Rookie Baseball League. Mr. Geiss will not only throw out the first pitch to start each season, but he will help train our coaches, umpires and students in various ways throughout the season.
In addition, with the lead gift from Dave Lebryk and additional gifts in memory of Dale Gott, another Valparaiso beloved teacher and coach, the Valparaiso Parks Foundation and Park Department is establishing a Youth Sports Fund. This Youth Sports Fund will enable Valpo Parks to increase its capability to offer the highest quality in officials and coaches training and provide the best and safest equipment to all age groups and ensure that scholarships are available so that all children may participate regardless of their family financial circumstances.
The initial gifts of $23,000 have put the fund in position to start serving kids well this year. Our year end goal is $50,000. This will be an annual fund drive led by the Valpo Parks Foundation with a long-term goal of raising $100,000.
Community members are invited to join “Leaders Giving Back” with a donation by contacting the Valpo Parks Foundation or Development Director, Lisa Kusbel, at 219-462-5144 or visiting the Park Admin Office at 3210 N. Campbell Street, Valparaiso, IN 46385.