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Jan8WedAfter a devastating hurricane, a baseball player and The Salvation Army assist the Bahamas. January 8, 2020 by Jayne Thurber-Smith with Shannon Wise
Chavez Young moved to the United States from Freeport, Bahamas, at 14 to pursue his dream of making a living at playing baseball. The fact that only a handful of Bahamians had made it into major league baseball did not deter him.
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“Baseball was always my dream,” he comments. “I remember the first time watching baseball as a kid—it was a Chicago Cubs game. Alfonso Soriano hit three home runs back to back! I thought, I want to do that. He was my favourite player because he made it look fun, and I fell in love with baseball.”
Now 22, Chavez is an outfielder for the Dunedin Blue Jays in Florida and is a Toronto Blue Jays prospect. He was safe in Tampa on Labour Day weekend when hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, with winds up to 295 kilometres per hour. His brothers who still lived there had to evacuate their home, taking refuge at nearby shelters.
Getting Right to Business
“My brothers had five feet of water in their house, but I am so thankful they survived,” Chavez says. “They—along with our aunts, uncles, cousin—were all left without power, and the water was so contaminated from an oil spill that they couldn’t even shower, let alone drink it.”
Chavez feels strongly that his platform of pro baseball is a gift from God, and he knows a lot of people look up to him. He wants to use whatever influence and connection he has to be of assistance to his homeland. He quickly set up a CrowdRise by GoFundMe page to raise $20,000, listing The Salvation Army as the benefitting charity.
“I know The Salvation Army is about getting right to business,” he states. “I trust them.”
Eight days after hurricane Dorian made landfall, Chavez boarded a ferry for the three-and-a-half hour journey from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Grand Bahama to visit Freeport, his hometown.
“I have supplies to take with me that have been donated from various friends and families here,” he said just before he boarded. “I will go for a couple of weeks and will do whatever I can to help. I can’t imagine what my relatives are going through. Dorian was one of the most devastating storms to ever hit the Bahamas. I had experienced hurricanes growing up there, but nothing like this.”
With the extent of the damage in his hometown and the surrounding areas still being assessed, Chavez realizes the community has years of rebuilding ahead of them.
“I just know that we have to keep moving forward,” he says. “If you can’t run, you start with crawling, then walking, step by step. You keep pushing ahead.”
Proving and Improving
Before the beginning of the 2019 season, baseball-farm.com called Chavez “the most criminally underrated prospect in baseball.” Unfortunately for him, the Blue Jays’ major league team has so much young talent this year, he is still patiently waiting for his shot.
“I just keep on trusting the Lord, trusting myself, playing my game, staying within God’s path,” Chavez says.
The same article commented that he was “truly loved by his coaches, teammates and communities for both his work ethic and personality.”
“When I first came to America, I just wanted to get my education,” he says. “For me to be able to go to college, I needed to work hard at baseball and earn playing time. My work ethic drove me toward getting a scholarship, then toward going to a Division 1 college, then toward hopes of getting drafted. Thankfully, I got drafted, and now I need to prove myself. There’s always something to improve on and achieve.”
“I am compelled to help my community and I hope you will join me in supporting with a donation as well,” Chavez stated on his CrowdRise page. “The proceeds will go to The Salvation Army and directly benefit the Bahamas.
“When disasters strike, The Salvation Army is there, providing emergency assistance to survivors and first responders. The Salvation Army is serving those in need and, with your support, they can stay on the front lines of any crisis.
“Please join me in supporting the recovery efforts of my beloved home.”