TRUMBULL, Conn. — Connor Bailo was just 11 when his dad took him to the 2011 Little League World Series.
Although Bailo was excited to see the teams vie for the championship, what he remembers most is the Ugandan team. They were playing with no shoes.
“Some of the kids from foreign countries didn’t have the same equipment that we did,” said Bailo, who is now 16. “Some of my best memories are of playing catch with my dad in the backyard. I wanted to do something for them.”
About a year ago, Bailo founded Baseballs 4 A Better Community, a not-for-profit that aims to improve the lives of underprivileged children who love the game of baseball. Through donations of new or gently used balls and funds, he hopes to give away 1 million balls to kids both near and far in the coming years.
Over the last year, Bailo has worked with web developers to create his own Baseballs 4 A Better Community website . His aunt, an accountant, helped him file for tax-exempt status with the IRS.
“We’re a real company,” said the Trumbull High School honor student, who lists himself as CEO and founder.
Many of his early donations came from colleges and universities, including Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, University of New Haven, Northeastern and New York University, where his dad is an adjunct professor.
The Boston Red Sox contributed 24 regulation Major League Baseball balls valued at about $400.
Bailo, who played Little League and on travel teams when he was younger, is meeting with Major League Baseball later this month to discuss possible partnerships through their charitable initiatives.
He recently made his first donation, giving 1,203 balls to the Bridgeport Caribe Youth League. He also threw in a few dozen bats from NYU.
“Bridgeport’s right down the street and it’s tough for them to have the equipment they need,” Bailo said.
A junior, Bailo said he’s looking at colleges and hopes to major in a business field, possibly accounting. Although he knows that starting the nonprofit will look good on his resume, he said that’s the not reason behind Baseballs 4 A Better Community.
“If the balls keep rolling in, I’ll keep doing this,” he said.
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