Youth baseball players, Generation U raise money for well in Uganda
This summer, Yampa Valley Youth Baseball players have raised about $20,000 through the Field Well Project, part of Generation U, a nonprofit created by Steamboat Springs resident Joel Cobb.
All summer, youth players age 7 to about 17 took care of the Emerald Park Fields where they practice and play. The money that would have been spent maintaining the fields was donated to the Field Well Project.
“Everyone is Generation U. You are Generation U. You are the generation that can make a change and help transform local and international communities,” Cobb said. “It includes everybody. Whether you’re old, young, any age in between, no matter race, no matter background. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’ve been through or what you’ve done. You are the generation that can make a change. That’s how we came up with the name, Generation U.”
Many older participants can grasp they are helping people across the world, but for the younger players, it might be a little more obscure to them.
“They can get community service hours, and they’re able to take ownership of the fields and community where they live,” Cobb said.
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The summer wrapped up this week with a three-day camp, hosted by Tim Tisch, a former pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. Proceeds from the camp also benefited the well project. The camp is where Cobb’s passion for philanthropy and baseball overlap.
“We had a really great season in the Yampa Valley with our baseball numbers, quantity-wise,” Cobb said. “We focused first on the numbers, the quantity, and once we got that, we wanted to focus on quality. We want to bring better baseball to Steamboat.”
The camp came together quickly, in about three weeks. Still, there were 82 registrants for the camp. After covering expenses, proceeds benefited Generation U’s mission.
Camp attendees got to learn from Tisch and hear from E3 Chophouse owner and former MLB player Jeff LaRoche on the final day. Older players hope the camp generated excitement about baseball.
“I just like to see all the young kids coming out so we can develop our youth program,” said Dylan Gormley, a Steamboat Springs High School baseball player and camp participant. “I know I grew up in this program. … I’m glad to get more kids out playing baseball and enjoying the game.”
Kellen Gormley said it was a glimpse into the future of Steamboat baseball.
Cobb founded Generation U in 2019, the same year he moved to the Yampa Valley. It seemed to be his calling, and his entire life, the good and bad, led him to it.
Cobb spent the early years of his adult life making good money and bad decisions. He got into alcohol and drugs and bought an expensive home to hold his growing family.
In 2009, at the age of 30, he was invited on a trip to Africa to paint an orphanage. While there, he said he realized he was self absorbed and emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.
Cobb returned to Africa 13 times over the next five years, learning how much he loved to help people and use his privilege to serve others. A friend asked him how he wanted to be remembered. Was it for his business and how many expensive watches he owned, or would he rather be remembered by how he helped people?
Despite his epiphany, he eventually returned to his business and income-centered ways. But then he lost everything, adding financially bankrupt to his list of issues.
He thought back to the friend who asked him how he wanted to be remembered. Cobb realized he needed to live life backward, with the end in mind. So, he started to give back.
Two years ago, he created Generation U, and he’s already in the middle of three projects to build wells and save lives in villages in Africa.
Generation U has another well project in the works. A group of sixth-graders have spent their summer doing a chore challenge. They’ve collected sponsors and challenged their peers to join in, raising money for another well to aid people in Africa.
“I thought since we have clean drinking water, people in Africa should be allowed to have clean drinking water,” said sixth-grader Blake Hooker. “They deserve it, too.”
Tess Whitehead, another sixth-grader, said she is taking part in the challenge because she wants to help people.
The chore challenge was the bottom rung of the Generation U ladder. It was just the beginning, and everything else will go up from there.
“Water is life over there,” Cobb said. “We have an abundance of things living in America. Once you go over and travel and see that kind of poverty and realize how good we have it, it really touched me, so that’s where my passion got ignited. It’s about leaving a legacy.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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