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Tewksbury Lions Present Check to Support Boston Renegades

Funds will support team’s travel to the Beep Ball World Series

One of the rainiest summers on record didn’t keep the Tewksbury Lions from supporting the Boston Renegades beep baseball team. While the annual match between the Renegades and the Tewksbury Fire Department was washed out, the Lions were still able to donate $2,160 to help the Renegades travel to the 2024 Beep Ball World Series in St. Louis.

Beep ball is an adaptive form of baseball developed for those with varying levels of vision impairment. The sport uses balls and bases that emit an audible beep, and players wear masks to ensure those with partial vision don’t have an advantage. The Renegades are part of the National Beep Ball Association.

In a ceremony at TJ Callahan’s last night, John Deputat, president of the Tewksbury Lions, thanked sponsors Enterprise Bank, Competitive Edge, Tewksbury Sports Club, DLM Holdings, the Tewksbury Fire Fighters, Tom and Martha Clougherty and members of the Lions for their support. Tewksbury firefighters Joel Altavista, Peter Bielecki and Paul Farias attended. Altavista is president of Tewksbury Firefighters Local 1647.

“About four or five years ago we started doing this game with the Boston Renegades and the firefighters,” said Lions member Jerry Selissen. “We tried very hard this year to schedule the game again, but as we all know, the weather didn’t cooperate.”

Lions Clubs nationwide have supported causes for the blind since 1925, when Helen Keller attended the Lions Clubs International Convention and challenged the group to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

Renegades founder John Oliveira, left, with Selissen, was in attendance to accept the donation. Oliveira started the Renegades in 2001 to offer a way for visually impaired people to take part in a team sport. The Renegades now have 17 players and 23 volunteer coaches. Nationally, there are 25 beep ball teams that travel for weekend or weeklong tournaments. Oliveira said the team is always looking for volunteers and donations to cover equipment costs and travel expenses.

“The ball itself costs $35, so every year we spend about $2,000 on balls because they break,” he said. “We go through a lot of beep balls.”

The bases, which emit tones to help players run toward them, can cost $400. Then there are travel expenses to connect with other teams for tournaments. And, the organization offers other activities, including an upcoming kids camp in New Hampshire.

“Blind kids will be doing some pumpkin carving, and all kinds of activities that blind kids don’t really think they would be able to do,” said Oliveira. “They’re doing it. Again, all run by volunteers.”

Oliveira invites anyone who would like to volunteer to connect through the team’s website. For those who would like to donate, the Renegades are running an online raffle to raise funds. Tickets are $25 through Nov. 3.

“The Lions Club has been very important in in keeping beep ball going here in Massachusetts,” said Oliveira. “Again, thank you for your support.”

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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