Glenwood Springs residents raise funds to replace 12-year-old’s baseball gear lost in Marshall Fire
Leo Spielberger’s family lost everything in the Marshall Fire in late December.
The wind-whipped fire tore through the town of Superior, becoming the most destructive in state history in a matter of hours. Among the losses was the Spielberger’s new home, into which they had just moved six months earlier. The 11-year-old Leo lost all of his baseball equipment just weeks before he was to begin practice with the RoughRiders Sports Club based out of the Sport Stable facility in Superior.
Leo arrived at the team’s first practice — held at a bowling alley instead of Sport Stable’s indoor batting cages, as the facility was closed to clean up smoke damage from the fire — dejected and “looking very sad,” Greg Ball, a coach of the team, said.
But, in large part to Ball’s outreach to the Glenwood Springs community, Leo left the team meeting with a large smile and some swag — a new bat that was the exact model he had previously, donated by representatives at Justbats.com, a new glove from Mizuno after a nationwide search from the company, batting gloves and a pair of gift cards that totaled $2,000 in value.
“It’s overwhelming, really,” Leo’s father, Scott Spielberger, said. “It’s an incredible, generous act. … We have an outpouring of support from literally not only across the country from people that we know and don’t know and outside of the U.S. and friends and family. It gives you a lot of hope under the circumstances.”
Ball and RoughRiders head coach Matt Henderson graduated from Glenwood Springs High School in 1987 and maintained their friendships in the region.
When the Marshall Fire passed through and Ball issued a plea for assistance for Leo and the Spielbergers through his Facebook page, the people of Glenwood Springs thought back on their own tragedies, including the Coal Seam Fire of 2002.
West Glenwood Springs resident Shannon Derby and her family lost everything in that fire, including her sons’ baseball equipment. A family friend replaced it all. One of the kids, Cody Derby, used that equipment to continue playing baseball and turn it into a professional career as an athletic trainer.
Cody’s mother said none of that would have been possible without the generosity of others and did not hesitate to pass that on with Ball’s plea.
“When I saw Greg’s post, I was like, ‘Oh, absolutely,’” Derby said. “There was a kid who’s spirit needed to be lifted, so it was no hesitation. In Glenwood, it’s just like that. We’re all like that here.”
Derby wasn’t alone in her contributions. Of the thousands of dollars raised, Ball said nearly 70% came from the Glenwood Springs community, be it current residents or those who have moved away.
As Ball received an inundation of Venmo notifications and accompanying messages, two stood out: Derby’s and that of a graduating classmate, whom he chose to not name, but for whom “money is extremely tight,” Ball said.
“She sent $10 and told me, ‘I’m a mom, make sure he gets a mouthpiece,’” Ball said. “I do not cry very often, but these two comments literally touched every piece of my heart that I have.”
The overall generosity also touched Leo, who immediately put on his new glove and took his new bat out to the parking lot for some practice swings.
“It was a big win,” Scott Spielberger said.
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