Shelton’s LivFree baseball tourney to help those dealing with pediatric cancer
SHELTON — Technique Tiger Baseball Academy and Shelton Siege Travel Baseball will be dueling on the diamond, but the real winners will be children fighting pediatric cancer.
The second annual LivFree Step to the Plate Charity Baseball Tournament — the creation of Shelton residents Daniel Vieira and his wife, Katrina Lage — will be held Sept. 26 and Sept. 27 at Bridgeport’s Seaside Park.
Each team will be guaranteed to play three games so they can showcase their baseball talents and their desire to do good by helping others.
The Shelton couple created LivFree to help families dealing with a child with cancer. Vieira and Lage know what it’s like first hand. They learned their daughter, Lauren, known as Liv, had leukemia when she was 16 months old.
After dealing with chemotherapy and medicines, Liv is healthy and entering second grade, Vieira said.
While Liv’s battle with leukemia was victorious, the Vieiras said they continue to battle pediatric cancer the best way they know how — by bringing happiness to those children and families suffering through the disease.
The Vieiras — after learning how devastating a pediatric cancer diagnosis can be not only to the sick child but also the family — formed LivFree, a non-profit organization whose mission, according to Vieira, is to fight pediatric cancer with smiles by providing children and their families an experience “to help give them a break from treatment and provide them some family fun time.”
Whether it be a visit to a movie theater, a sporting event or meeting a celebrity, the LivFree foundation wants families to have something to look forward to during their tough time, the family said.
But the onset of the pandemic has changed the foundation’s focus for Connecticut families. Vieira said LivFree has turned virtual — offering families subscription services such as Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
LivFree has also teamed with area non-profits in offering services to families, from GrubHub deliveries and Amazon gift certificates to XBox Live subscriptions and care packages that contain board games, toys and face masks. Since COVID-19 hit the state, Vieira said, LivFree has assisted 110 families.
“We are still able to do a lot of cool things for families that so need some happiness in their lives,” Vieira said.
Vieira said the foundation has held numerous fundraising programs, from movie nights to golf outings, but this latest event is one close to the heart of his family since his son, 8-year-old Armando, plays baseball in the Technique Tiger Baseball Academy.
All proceeds from the baseball tournament will benefit LivFree and their mission of assisting families.
The tournament raised more than $19,000 last year and “fostered the message that children are powerful and can help make a difference in the world which rings true for both the players in the tournament and those fighting pediatric cancer,” Vieira said.