Longtime minor league baseball coach Omar Malave never imagined burying a grandchild.
"We can't lose another," the former Dunedin Blue Jays manager recently told a Toronto Sun reporter.
Malave lost his 3-year-old grandson last fall because the boy's parents — his daughter Omarlyn Jensen and her husband Joe Jensen — fell on financial hard times and could not come up with the money for a life-saving lung transplant, the Toronto Sun reports.
Omarlyn and Joe Jensen, who had lost his job, did not even have the $12,000 to bury their son, the Sun reports.
Just months after their tragic loss, they learned their 1-year-old daughter Elisse has a heart defect that causes her arteries to enlarge and it has already caused part of her lung to collapse. The family must front $20,000 for life-saving open heart surgery in Texas, the Sun reports.
Malave told the Sun, "My daughter asks me why, why is this happening?”
Although Joe Jensen has since found employment, his family health insurance does not kick in until November. Elisse's surgery is scheduled for Sept. 17, the Sun reports.
The Dunedin Blue Jays are rallying to help the grieving family save their beloved baby Elisse on Friday at Fan Appreciation Night when they face the Clearwater Threshers.
Venezuelan-born Malave is a 31-year member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization and now manages the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays who play in Dunedin.
The D-Jays stepped up in true Dunedin fashion — with a blowout fundraiser set with all proceeds going to Elisse's medical expenses.
Malave is even auctioning off much of the baseball memorabilia he's collected during his time with the organization, including at least 15 autographed baseballs, an autographed bat, and eight autographed jerseys.
"I have to be really strong in order to help my daughter," he reportedly told the Sun.
Want to Go?
- What: The Dunedin Blue Jays face the Clearwater Threshers for Fan Appreciation Night. Proceeds from the game go to offset the medical cost for a baby girl's open heart surgery.
- What's in Store: A silent auction featuring more than 30 years of baseball memoribilia, a 50/50 raffle, a mystery ball raffle, and a post-game launch-a-ball.
- When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31.
- Cost: $6, first 500 fans receive a free Darold Knowles then-and-now bobblehead. (Knowles is the Dunedin Blue Jays pitching coach, a three-time World Series Champion and Florida State League Hall of Fame member)
Some Auction Items (full list attached):
- Baseballs Signed by: 1993 World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays team, Bernie Williams, Gary Carter, Paul Molitor, Luis Aparicio, Ferguson Jenkins, Vladimir Guerrero, Roberto Alomar, Roy Halladay, Pat Hentgen, Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, 2011 Vancouver Canadians Championship team
- Various Jerseys Signed by: 2011 Vancouver Canadians Championship team, Randy Boone, Jesse Hernandez, Kevin Nolan, Jon Talley, Darold Knowles, 2012 Dunedin Blue Jays