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The Kane County Cougars hosted more than 1,000 Mooseheart students, staff members, Moose International staffers as well as men and women of the Moose fraternity at the team’s Aug. 8 contest against the Burlington Bees. Mooseheart Executive Director Gary Urwiler (center) threw out a ceremonial first pitch. He is flanked by Cougars Mascot Ozzie T. Cougar and Tommy Moose.
Students and Family Teachers from Mooseheart’s Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Residence Homes attended the Aug. 8 Kane County Cougars-Burlington Bees contest at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. The group posed with Tommy Moose at the entrance to ballpark.
Mooseheart students Jeremy Kalicum (left) and Willie Nicholas enjoyed their trip to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. The trip was made possible by the Kane County Cougars.
A fireworks show highlighted the postgame festivities after the Aug. 8 Kane County Cougars-Burlington Bees contest.
MOOSEHEART, IL, August 9 – As its gift to help Mooseheart celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Kane County Cougars gave the children of Mooseheart, its employees and any Moose member who wanted to attend a chance to go a baseball game on Thursday (Aug. 8.)
And on an evening practically minted for sitting in a grandstand and watching a ballgame, 1,045 attended the Cougars game against the Burlington Bees at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
The Cougars won the game 7-0, but the real score on this night could be seen on the faces of the large gathering scattered down the third base line seats. People mingled. People laughed. Of course people watched the game too – watched Mooseheart Executive Director Gary Urwiler throw out a first pitch; watched Tommy Moose participate in on-field antics with Ozzie T. Cougar; sang “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch and stayed for post-game fireworks.
“The Cougars organization loves to provide an opportunity for these kids at Mooseheart as well as the men and women who are so generous with their time and money from all the Lodges across the area,” Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug said. “This is something we really enjoy doing.”
Haug is well aware of the Moose fraternity and what it means in the lives of the children at Mooseheart. He has been a member of Mooseheart, IL Lodge 2655 for more than two years.
“What was cool was that this is the 100th anniversary of Mooseheart – and that is something we should definitely celebrate,” Haug said. “It’s amazing what they do over there, providing the training and education for these kids whose families weren’t able to provide that for them. It’s a pretty amazing place.”
A Yorkville resident, Haug said he passes Mooseheart every day on his way to his office at the ballpark.
“It just reminds you of all the great things that Mooseheart does for these kids,” Haug said. “To have reached its 100th anniversary is really something.”
Haug was signed into the fraternity by Moose International Director of Security Rick McKiness, who has coordinated parking at Cougars games for 13 years.
“We were having a discussion about bringing the children over here and I said we should also bring out the Moose, who make it all possible,” McKiness said.
Original plans to distribute 450 tickets proved too small – more than twice that number attended the game.
“I can’t think of anything you can do to bring all aspects of this community together that’s better than this was,” Urwiler said. “I mean, we had Mooseheart students and staff as well as employees from Moose International and their friends and families all get together. It was great to see all the faces and to see them connect at a baseball game. The weather was perfect and it gave us all a chance to enjoy live and be revitalized.”
Thursday’s game came as summer vacation nears an end for Mooseheart’s students. The fall athletic teams begin practice on Wednesday, starting the pathway toward Aug. 29 and the opening day of the 2013-14 school year.
“It’s another way to build enthusiasm as we head to fall and to school starting and the fresh start that brings,” Urwiler said. “I was pleased with the amount of people who attended. Everyone I talked to had a really good time.”
The Cougars are competing in their 23rd season and have a long history of working with Mooseheart. In 1991, the team’s first season, the batboys were Mooseheart residents. Various events have been held over the years at the ballpark, and Haug said he hopes to continue with more events in the future,
“We share a community with Mooseheart,” Haug said. “This is the kind of thing we like to get involved in and hopefully we can do it for more years to come.”
Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.
Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.
Mooseheart is currently home to roughly 230 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.
In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $70 million worth of community service programs annually.