Hits for Hope: Firelands Falcons' Joe San Felippo's charity continues to grow as it enters second year

MORNING JOURNAL FILE PHOTO Firelands’ Joe San Felippo started the “Hits for Hope” charity in 2012 to help sick children at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. The charity raised nearly $2,000 in its first year.

In memory of his grandfather who passed away from esophageal cancer, Firelands’ Joe San Felippo wanted to not only find a way to honor him, but also to help children fighting the same battle against cancer.

San Felippo started a charity last season called “Hits for Hope,” similar to the “Rush for the Cause” program he had been a part of with the football team, as he hoped to use his talents to help raise money to help sick children.

“I try to do as much as possible to help others,” San Felippo said. “To help those in the situation that they’re in, anything that I can do to help anyone that could use a little help is just what I’m about. I love doing it and I love helping people that are less fortunate than I am.”

Firelands coach Ted Busch helped San Felippo get the word out through emails and letters to teams throughout the area, particularly in the Patriot Athletic Conference.

The first year of the program was a success, raising nearly $2,000 through donations from parents as well as other teams in the area, including the Lake Erie Crushers. Among the things that have been donated included autographed hats and baseballs, as well as tickets to Crushers games that have all gone to the kids at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Heading into the second year of “Hits for Hope,” the reach has started to grow outside of Lorain County as more teams are doing what they can to be a part of it.

“We were down in Tiffin this past Saturday, and Tiffin Columbian and Clyde signed a hat that’s going straight to the children at the hospital,” San Felippo said. “We’re trying to get almost every team we play this year to see if they will donate a hat. On Monday, coach (John) Carter at Fairview said that he would have a hat ready for me.

“A bunch of people have really helped the cause and it has come together pretty well.”

With the help of the Crushers as well as the teams he and his school are able to get in touch with, San Felippo has seen “Hits for Hope” continue to expand beyond just Lorain County, including at Clyde where he said the team will donate a signed hat every year the program continues.

He admits he has been very impressed by the growth of the program in such a short time.

“People like to donate to a special cause,” San Felippo said. “I appreciate everything that Tiffin Columbian and Clyde both did this past weekend. It means a lot to me. I know it means a lot to the people at University Hospitals and the children who are receiving the donations.”

San Felippo, who hit over .500 for the second-straight season in 2012 and helped lead his Firelands Falcons to a district finals appearance, said he feels more inspired to perform well at the plate because of his cause.

“It makes me concentrate a little more,” he added. “I know what I’m doing is not just for my own personal statistics. It’s all for helping someone else. I think that helps me a little bit at the plate, staying focused.

“If I had a bad first at-bat, I know that I have to change something. It does help a lot as far as staying focused.”

A senior, San Felippo hopes to continue the program going if he plays college baseball after this year.

“I love doing it now and I don’t think that’s going to change,” he said. “I would love to, when I’m out of school, set something up and have high school kids doing it even when I’m not here doing it and run it as a charity thing. I would love to do that, too.”

He is looking into schools such as Winthrop University in South Carolina and Mercyhurst University.



If you wish to donate to “Hits for Hope,” visit any FirstMerit Bank in Lorain County, where there will be a “Hits for Hope” box where you can deposit your donation. You can also email Joe at dodgers@peoplepc.com or call (440) 774-1067.



@Bielik_Tim

Last Updated: 4/11/2013 11:45:15 PM EST

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