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Baseball camp to benefit youth baseball family

By Staff | Mar 23, 2013

The King family has been synonymous with youth baseball in Cape Coral.

Chuck King helped build the fields and brought Cal Ripken/ Babe Ruth baseball to the city in the ’70s. His son, Ken, has been a longtime coach along with his father.

So when Ken’s wife, Judy, was diagnosed with an advanced cancer, it was only natural that those who got so much out of the selfless acts of the King family paid it back.

On Sunday, April 7, a benefit baseball clinic will be put on at Pelican baseball field from 1 to 4 p.m. for players ages 4 to 18, with all proceeds going to the King family.

Ken, who didn’t know about the benefit camp before, said he was moved by the gesture.

“It’s humbling, but it’s a good thing. We’ve always been on the giving end and never thought we’d be on the other end,” Ken said. “We have great friends and great family who have come together and helped us through this.”

The cost is $30 in advance and $40 the day of. Those who register in advance will also get a camp T-shirt.

Many local coaches and trainers are expected to participate, including former Big League pitcher Eric Rasmussen, who is pitching coordinator for the Minnesota Twins.

The site of the camp is apropos, given that the Kings have coached there for years.

“We wanted to do it at Bishop Verot but couldn’t because of insurance purposes,” said Jeff Bender, camp coordinator and owner of Scotland Yard Pest Control in Cape Coral. “Pelican is where Ken coached, so we asked the city and it approved the permit.”

Rasmussen got the Twins and the Miracle (the Twins’ minor-league affiliate) involved, and paraphernalia from current and former players were donated for giveaways.

Also taking part are Dan Smith of the Atlanta Braves, Keith Goodwin of the Boston Red Sox, Coach Steve Larson of Mariner, Rich Weiser at Island Coast, Ida Baker’s Bob VanDeventer and Sean Brady, and others.

“The more kids we get the more coaches we’ll get,” Bender said. “We have pitching, hitting and fielding instructors, so we have a good mix.”

The clinic will finish with a skills competition and maybe a short game, if time allows, Bender said.

But the main idea is to raise funds for Judy, who has been in stage 4 of melanoma for the last three years. It was first spotted eight years ago and got progressively worse until doctors said there was little more than could do.

“It was staggering. We have four kids at home and we weren’t ready for this,” Ken said. “It’s very aggressive. Once it gets past your lymph system and it’s in your blood, it attacks your organs and it’s hard to stop.”

Judy was recently accepted at M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center in Houston for a clinical study on experimental treatments for melanoma, which Ken said he is grateful to be a part of.

Ken, who once owned a landscaping business that went bust when the economy did, lost his insurance as well. They have had to rely on fund-raisers like spaghetti dinners and bowl-a-thons to raise money for the treatments.

For many, all the work their doing for their friend is worth it.

“They’re good people, they’ve been great to the community and they’re suffering right now,” Bender said.