Some ballplayers took a swing Oct. 27 at helping their Abington Little League coach battle cancer. Coach Ted Pietryka helped turn them into champions. Now the children say it's his turn to win and beat the cancer competition.
The boys sold customized bracelets during soccer games at Stroney Field in South Abington Township to raise funds for Pietryka, who was diagnosed in August with lung and throat cancer. Pietryka was an assistant coach on the Fox Ledge Spring Water team, for which his son Garrett also played.
Over the summer, Pietryka helped the seven and eight- year -olds clinch the title of Abington Little League Minor Farm Champions.
The boys went on to win their last 13 games, including the title of Minor Farm champs. The team placed second out of 24 teams in the Dunmore Minor Farm Invitational in May.
They reaped the rewards on the field of hard work, determination and grit. Now, they want their coach to believe, like they did, if he keeps his head in the game, he can beat cancer. They formed a new team, Team Ted. The kids and head coach Ryan Mitvalsky suited up on Saturday for business. They hit the muddy soccer fields, selling bracelets which featured the words: Team Ted. Brave, strong and heroic.
Pietryka's wife Jen showed up with her three boys to lend their support. But the highlight arrived when Pietryka himself, fresh off a round of chemotherapy, made a surprise appearance to personally thank the youngsters. He was, undoubtedly, touched.
The boys raised $1,080 and aren't done yet. Look for Team Ted at other Abington area sporting events during the next few weeks.Another upcoming benefit for Pietryka, Friends and Family Together for Ted, is scheduled for Nov. 11 at State Street Grill, from 5 to 8 p.m. A DJ will provide entertainment and a silent auction and 50/50 raffle will be held. Tickets will be available at the door for $50 , which includes food stations and open bar. All proceeds will offset medical expenses of Pietryka. The Team Ted bracelets will also be for sale at the event. Monetary donations can be made directly to a fund: Friends and Family Together for Ted, C/O PNC Bank, 207 S. State St., Clarks Summit.