CHICAGO (CBS) — Just steps from the Humboldt Park lagoon where that famous alligator was finally reeled in, another big story is unfolding, without much limelight.
The Roberto Clemente Little League team has won a chance to play for a national championship, and they are hoping for support from the entire community.
These boys now representing Illinois in the Little League’s Intermediate Division.
The big game, the state championship game, they won in Humboldt Park at their home field.
“Yesterday there were so many fans. I was even nervous. It was crazy,” said Jadiel Garcia.
Joshua Quinones hit the game-winning homer–the day before his 13th birthday.
“That was like my first home run of the season,” he said. “For it to be walk off is just insane.”
They’re now off to Michigan for the regional finals.
“It’s bigger than just a Chicago community,” said league president April Curtis. “We represent the great state of Illinois.”
For all the joy in Humboldt Park, there is a financial strain—travel expenses for the boys’ parents that they could not have anticipated when the season started in April.
It’s a big bill for Joshua’s mother, Christina Santiago, who drives an Uber.
“We’d rather that they be busy doing something positive,” Santiago said. “When everybody comes together it makes easy and it shows them that there’s something better out there. And they can always rely on the support in the community.”
Curtis, who works in violence prevention for the Chicago Public Schools, is hoping for community-wide support.
“Just being able to see what sports does,” Curtis said. “It saves many of these kids’ lives, and we if continue to pour into our kids, the better. The best comes out of them.”
The team has set up a Go Fund Me account to help cover expenses.