Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Alumnus and cancer survivor gives chronically ill children the opportunity to attend sports games and shows.
A long-time baseball fan and Jasper alum, Dan Geelan ’59 is a firm believer that every child should have the chance to see their favorite team play live — which can be difficult for the hospital-bound.
Now he’s sharing this love of baseball with sick children and their families through his organization Donate A, which collects unused tickets for baseball games, sporting events and Broadway shows.
The retired executive vice president of IBM knows firsthand how season tickets can go unused within large companies, and was inspired to start Donate A in 2004 after beating cancer for the second time.
“I kept saying, ‘what can I do?’ and it was like an epiphany,” Geelan explains. “Whatever is was, I know it came from God, saying ‘this is what you can do.’”
In the last three years, Donate A has collected more than 3,000 tickets (1,000 a year) from corporations and sports teams, and this year’s number is continuing to climb with more than 1,400 donations. Since 2009, both the New York Yankees and Mets have also regularly contributed tickets to Donate A.
“At a recent game in May, we sent 225 children and their parents to a Mets game,” Geelan says. “Both teams are very accommodating for special circumstances, and have allowed kids to take batting practice.”
When a person is interested in donating tickets to Donate A, all they have to do is visit www.DonateA.com, and the request is automatically sent to the social workers desk at Hackensack University Medical Center, where a chronically ill child on the list is picked to attend the game or show with his or her family — part of Geelan’s original vision.
“Dan Geelan is changing lives and creating lasting memories for children with life threatening illnesses,” says Alissa Sandler, MSW, LCSW Section Chief of the SIDS Center of N.J., Social and Work Supervisor in the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center. “At the end of a day of tireless medical treatments for a chronic condition nothing can replace the smiles, cheers and pure delight expressed by our pediatric patients and their families when they receive a set of tickets.”
Donate A has worked with Memorial Sloan-Kettering and the Ronald Macdonald House of New York City. Other generous donors have included the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Broadway’s Mary Poppins and more.
Geelan will frequently visit kids in the hospital who attend games or shows on behalf of Donate A, and see in person how much they appreciate the opportunity.
As Donate A’s ticket donations increase, Geelan continues to build partnerships with the dedicated corporate sponsors and sports teams.
Pictured above: Eleanor, a teen cancer survivor, with friends at Yankee Stadium.