LEICESTER, Mass. — Next month, a group of Leicester High School students will set out to bring the small town of Leicester its first Guinness World Record, and Central Mass. residents are invited to join the young dreamers for a marathon wiffle ball game that will help raise money for Lou Gehrig's disease research.
"We wanted to break a world record, and we wanted to do something to put Leicester on the map," said Jack Lajoie, one of the group of friends at Leicester High who have been organizing the event. "Then we decided to make it a charity event, so we all met at the library one morning and talked it out."
Hashing out plans for the event in the public library, the boys decided that a 30 hour wiffle ball game would help bring people together, as it is something that appeals to students and families, young and old, and athletes and non-athletes alike.
"Who doesn't love a good game of wiffle ball?" said Alex Blanchette. "It's something everyone can play."
Furthermore, the boys wanted to not only leave a legacy for Leicester, but also do something good for the community and for a charity, so all proceeds from the event will be donated to the research and treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.)
Yet at first, many people scoffed at the idea, questioning whether the group of kids could really pull something as big as a world record off. But a few rays of support shined through the initially casted doubts.
"I was surprised when I talked to my parents about it," said Michael Rieder. "I bring up a lot of ridiculous stuff to my parents, and so when I said we are going to try to break a world record and play wiffle ball for 30 hours, they were like 'that's a great idea.'"
Both motivated by the challenge and encouraged by those who believed in them, the boys have been working hard over the past few months to make their idea come to fruition. And now, with the help of friends, community members, and local businesses, it is definite that the wiffle ball game will happen on June 23 at the Leicester Little League field.
"At first it was like something you fantasize about, like something you only see in movies," said Connor Jost, "But now it's actually happening and it's really exciting."
"I remember seeing news articles and seeing these young kids putting on these huge charity events and thinking, how do they do this? How do they get everything together and throw a big event like that. And it's funny, because now we're those kids," said Zachary Jacobs.
Craig Curelop, a graduate of LHS and student at Northeastern University, was another driving force in keeping the ball rolling.
"We were just going to do it in our backyard, but Craig was like, let's make this a huge event to actually help out Leicester," said Rieder.
Curelop used his connections to drum up support for the event, and also helped contact the ALS association to set up the fundraiser.
Additionally, with guidance from Curelop, who Rieder called "the godfather" of the group, the boys organized themselves, taking on different roles of responsibility. For instance, Rieder has been in working on music for the event, while Lajoie has been handling the advertising, and Pat Jost has been handling networking through Twitter.
"Guinness actually sent us a zip folder with information on how to document the event, too," explained Lajoie. "So we can present it to them in order to get the record."
Together, the boys have also ventured out to gain the support of local businesses.
"Over the last couple days, we've been visiting businesses and getting feedback, and we've already got several sponsors for permanent teams," said Lajoie. "The businesses are all very willing to sponsor us, and have been really happy about it."
"We're relying on a lot of small businesses as sponsors, and for donations, and we're also advertizing for them to help bring them more business," said Connor Jost.
Throughout the day, there will also be lots of food and live music to keep people entertained, as well as 50-50 raffles other fun activities.
"We really want it to be a family event that people can have fun at, bring their kids and spend the day there, and contribute to a great cause, while helping small businesses" said Lajoie. "We want to unify the community and have something good come out of Leicester, and on top of that, we want to show that you can dream big."
In order to break the World Record, the game must last for over 30 hours of continuous play, and the boys plan on accomplishing this by using multiple teams to rotate in.
But to do this, there still is a tremendous need for more teams of five as well as individuals for filler spots to sign up to play the game.
Those interested in supporting the endeavor, through sponsorships or donations, are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The event will be at the Leicester Little League Fields at 90 South Main St. in Leicester, and will run from 10 a.m. on Saturday June 23 to Sunday June 24. Admission prices are $2 for students and $5 for adults to attend the event, with all proceeds to go to ALS research.
To sign up to be a part of the actual game, residents can visit www.wiff-als.webs.com for the sign-up form and more information about the event.
Anyone over the age of 7 is allowed to play in the record-setting game and anyone under 7 years old can participate in the smaller wiffle ball activities.
To keep updated on the event, click here to visit the Wiff-ALS page on Facebook.