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Photo courtesy Michael Petze
Photo courtesy Michael Petze
Michael Petze (right) with his cousin Anthony.

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Michael Petze is like most other 14-year-olds in that he loves baseball. For the past three years, the Douglaston resident has been playing on the CP Stars travel baseball team out of College Point, winning 24 tournaments throughout the mid-Atlantic area. However, now he is using his baseball skills to raise money for his cousin, Anthony, 24, an athlete with Down’s Syndrome.

Petze was recently invited to compete in the 9th Annual Power Showcase at the Florida Marlins Park in Miami, Fla., from Dec. 28, to Jan. 2. While the Showcase gives him an opportunity to show off his baseball skills, “it also includes a charity component,” explained Petze. The Showcase urges the players to give back to the community, and Petze decided to help his cousin participate in the local Special Olympics competition held every summer in Massachusetts, where Anthony lives.

“Anthony always puts a smile on my face,” said Petze. “He taught me to never judge a person by their looks, not to treat someone as an outcast because they are different.”

While Petze is a pitcher and a competitive hitter, Anthony runs track, plays basketball and bowls. Anthony is part of the Mid-Cape Sports Program, which, said Petze, spends $10,000 annually to provide training facilities for its athletes. He is hoping to raise the entire amount. He started his fundraising efforts “a couple of weeks ago” and has received contributions and pledges for contributions totaling to more than $2,000.

Petze hopes to raise the funds by the beginning of February as that would give him time to visit his cousin in Cape Cod. “I haven’t seen him in a long time,” he said.

Meanwhile, with 170 athletes from more than 20 countries participating in the Showcase, the event itself is a great opportunity for this Derek Jeter fan. “My parents are really happy about [receiving] the invitation and that I’d be meeting new people,” he said. “I like to be able to show people my talent in baseball.”

If you wish to support Michael Petze and his cousin Anthony, you can either make a one-time contribution, or pledge a certain amount for each home run hit or contribute per foot for the longest home run or per foot of a hit that goes over the fence. Make your checks payable to Special Olympics and write Mid-Cape Sports on the memo line.

For more information or to make a pledge, email Michael at MPetze05@gmail.com.

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