Editor's note: The following is a press release issued by the Plainfield Park District.
The Plainfield Park District hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Joey Kledzik Memorial Field at Renwick Community Park on Sept. 15.
The project is being funded by the Joey Kledzik Memorial Fund ($40,600), a grant awarded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Plainfield Park District.
The field, designed for 12-18-year-old players, should be ready for play in spring 2014.
Joey Kledzik was born April 2, 1985 with a congenital heart defect known as transposition of the great vessels. Joey eventually underwent two open-heart surgeries and survived numerous complications, but by age 2, he appeared to be as normal as any other child.
Through his toddler and preschool years, Joey developed natural athletic abilities. By age 9, he was a baseball all-star, and at age 11, he was chosen to play part-time travel ball.
However, Joey died suddenly on May 30, 1997 while playing kickball in gym class at school.
The Kledzik family organized the first Joey Kledzik Memorial Tournament in 1998 as a way of coping with his death. The baseball tournament started with four individual tourneys for ages 10-13 with 37 teams competing. It has grown to seven individual tourneys for ages 9-15 with a total 80 teams competing.
The Kledzik Memorial Tournament has donated more than $40,000 toward the development of the new field in Joey’s memory.
“We, the Kledzik family, have been sincerely blessed with the opportunity to organize and run a wonderful tournament in Joey's memory for the past 15 years,” said Barb Kledzik, Joey’s mother. “That being said, we are overjoyed with the opportunity to give back to our community and youth baseball by donating the proceeds for the construction of another baseball field. We’d like to thank so very much all those that have made this event such a huge success – family, the Plainfield Park District, and the Plainfield Athletic Club.”
“We are thankful to the Kledzik family for their generosity, and fortunate to have received grant funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for this project,” said Greg Bott, Plainfield Park District executive director. “The addition of a field of this size will fulfill a need within our community.”