Curtis Lee Sanders grew up just a couple hundred feet away from Washington Park in Sunnyvale, and baseball was life. His Dad coached him through Sunnyvale National Little League and his Mom supported the team and never missed a game. It was a special time each Spring when the smell of baseball was in the air. Leaving school with the fragrance of freshly cut grass and the excitement of heading to the field for practice was almost too much to handle. The possibilities were endless to a kid on days like these. And that's not even Saturdays. Saturdays at Washington Park in Sunnyvale was a magical place for the community and of course, the kids. A schedule of tightly packed games from 9am-9pm was just the beginning of the fun. Outside each game, friendships grew and there was no happier time in their young lives. Curtis and his family cherished this time as they watched him grow from a little boy to an adolescent and then off to play high school baseball and traveling teams thereafter.
Tragically, Curtis passed away in a car accident at the age of 20 and nothing was ever the same. The comforting feeling of knowing Curtis was around was gone and all we could do is try our best to remember the good times.
10 years later in September of 2011, his friends and family put their sadness aside and announced a friendly softball game and BBQ potluck in his honor called the Curtis Sanders Fall Classic. A decision was made to make this a fundraising event to cover registration for a less fortunate child in Sunnyvale for the following little league season. The event received an overwhelming response and raised over $600. A testament of what an incredible young man Curtis was. He was an honest, upfront, hard-working and truly good person. He loved his country, respected others and did the right thing. Always. Needless to say, the money raised was going to help not just one kid, but a handful. On that day, the Curtis Lee Sanders Foundation was born and 5 friends along with his Mom and Dad started holding bi-monthly meetings to talk about where they wanted to go with the Foundation. Nothing was official by any means, but they knew they had something special.
The meetings went from random gatherings of half planning and half joking to more structured meetings with action items divided up amongst each friend and his parents. One of those items was to create a partnership with Sunnyvale National. Because of the rich history of Curtis in the league and the amount of people still involved in Sunnyvale National to this day, it was a simple task. SNLL took them in with open arms and by Opening Ceremonies 2012, a group of 30+ friends and family wearing the stitched 'Curtis' jerseys walked to home plate and addressed the current families and people of Sunnyvale National. An amazing response and another $600 raised. It was an act of pure generosity by the community and a great honor for Curtis himself. The Foundation got involved in many other similar events soon after.
Realizing the Foundation could impact more than just the league Curtis grew up in, the members made a decision to look into forming an official organization with 501(c)(3) tax exemption. A long 9 month period passed until finally, a letter arrived from the IRS stating they were officially a non-profit organization as of October of 2012. What a big sigh of relief and special special day for the community and Curtis' family.
Since then, the CLS Foundation has impacted kids’ lives by providing sports equipment and support all over the Bay Area.
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