Over two dozen exuberant youth were brimming with excitement inside the multi-use room at St. John’s Episcopal Church in San Bernardino, while their parents looked on with as much enthusiasm on Saturday, May 12. They were eagerly awaiting the LA Dodgers bus to take them to the baseball stadium for an all-inclusive experience that includes the game, T-shirts, and meal vouchers for stadium concessions through the Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball program (K4DB).
This adventure was a result of Gary Ferrer’s inquiry last year to the Dodgers about the possibility for his folklórico youth group, St. John’s Angels, to perform before a game. Dodgers representatives inquired of Ferrer’s story and discovered his battle with meningitis that almost claimed his life in 2016 that left him blind would change the course of his life to one of dedicated community service.
Following an arduous battle with a bout of depression, Ferrer, who was an avid photographer, with the support of husband Ivan Resendez, found a new focus and embraced his love of dance and today teaches Zumba and folklórico classes daily for free at St. John’s. The youth group has performed throughout Southern California and volunteered at community cleanup events.
Lessons in discipline, courtesy, respect, and volunteerism are weaved through the technical aspects of dance.
“I teach them that they have to give back (to their community),” Ferrer said. “They must be presentable, have manners because they are not just representing our culture, but also our city.”
Now in its fourth season, Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball provides 20,000 underserved children and teens each season the opportunity to experience a Dodger baseball game.
“We aim to expose (kids) to the baseball experience, especially those who haven’t been to a game,” explained Dodger Program Coordinator Mark Arroyo. “This is our way of giving back to the community by providing all the bells and whistles including transportation to and from the stadium.”
35 children and 15 adult chaperones boarded the bus Saturday afternoon to watch the Dodgers take on the Cincinnati Reds. According to Ferrer many from the neighborhood can’t afford to leave the city let alone attend a baseball game.
“This is a new experience for us,” said Ferrer about the excursion. “We all work together and we also enjoy together, it’s very gratifying.