Brian Hamilton: Locals have Giant hearts |

Brian Hamilton: Locals have Giant hearts

Karen Campbell, and 49 other area baseball nuts, really wanted to catch a Giants game when the New York Yankees come calling later this summer at AT&T Park.

But so do thousands of other fans around Northern California, which means the Giants are making big bucks by selling tickets to the Yankee games only in packages with others.

And that meant Campbell and her baseball-loving brethren had half a hundred duckets for last Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

What to do? Scalp ’em?

Not a bad idea for you or me, but Campbell and her clan are clearly more generous souls. Instead, they decided to give the seats away to a worthy cause. And they found one through one of Campbell’s good buddies.

“One day Karen said ‘You know, we want to donate these 50 tickets to an organization, a nonprofit. Do you know any kids organization like that?” Carole McCammon recalled. “I said ‘Yeah, I know exactly who could use them.'”

McCammon just happens to be on the on the board of directors for the Nevada County Association for the Developmentally Disabled. And her son, Paul Johnson, just happened to be one of Campbell’s favorite regulars at Margarita’s restaurant.

“Karen loves Paul,” McCammon said of her 22-year-old son who has been diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome. “They’ve become buddies.

“He’s always watching football, basketball and baseball there. And when he watches, he actually imitates the pitcher, the quarterback or the coach. When he’s watching something, he’s part of it. He’s performing it. He’s a big sports fan.”

Many of young men and women participating in the NCADD program love sports. Several have played Abilities Basketball or Little League Challengers baseball, while others take to the slopes on an annual ski trip.

“(NCADD is) a group of parents who basically decided these young adults need social events and activities, just like everybody else,” McCammon said.

So Campbell and company had found their cause. Now the NCADD just had to find a way to transport 35 developmentally disabled baseball fans and some chaperones to the Bay Area ballpark.

Enter the western Nevada County community.

Most people who have lived here long at all likely have a story about how members of this community have lent them a helping hand in some fashion. Once again, our community answered the call.

McCammon said Bob Breck was the first to step up to the plate. Breck, general manager at KNCO 830 AM radio, offered to help out in obtaining a bus. Soon thereafter, McCammon said, several area businesses jumped right in to make sure the trip would be a memorable one for the kids.

Margaritas, WestAmerica Mortgage and Wild Birds Unlimited got right behind KNCO in helping out with the bus, while Maria’s Restaurant bought Giants T-shirts for the kids to wear at the game and Port of Subs provided box lunches for the trip down.

“I couldn’t believe what was going on,” McCammon said. “I feel so blessed to live in this community, where people do this.”

Kim Adams, who also attended the game, has also seen how the community rallies for such efforts in the past. In fact, her own daughter has shown such heart. About five years ago, Jenell Adams stepped up and created the Abilities Basketball program, which many of these kids have enjoyed ever since.

On Saturday, despite the Giants losing 6-1 and Barry Bonds going 0-for-4 at the plate, they were just enjoying being at a big league ballpark.

“I would gladly take this group of ‘kids’ anywhere,” Kim Adams wrote in a e-mail to The Union. “Most of the group was adults who were so enthusiastic that at any given moment you would catch them breaking out in laughter or cheering fanatically for both teams.

“The big screen, the crowds, the food being sold right in the stands … cotton candy, hot dogs, they just couldn’t get enough! I was caught up in watching each one of them have the time of their lives that I missed the game … but saw the true picture.”

Judging from the smiles on their faces, those 50 baseball fans who donated their seats – and the area businesses who stepped forward to make sure they would be filled – got more for their tickets than any scalper could have offered.



Brian Hamilton is sports editor at The Union. Contact him via e-mail at brianh@theunion .com or by phone at 477-4240.

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