Members of the Nassau County high school baseball community did more than just hit a home run for Steven Kuzemchak, the Calhoun batboy/student manager who recently was diagnosed with cancer.
They hit a grand slam, staging a home run derby last month that raised more than $10,000 to help with medical bills and other costs of treating Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I’m beyond words,” said Steven’s mother, Marguerite Kuzemchak of North Merrick. “The whole community came together for Steven, and they touched our hearts. [People] we had never met before, complete strangers. It helps tremendously. I’m a single mom, and I don’t know how I would get through some of the stuff I was going through.”
Steve DiMarco, Calhoun’s assistant baseball coach, organized the Oct. 21 event, called “Hit Hodgkins Out of the Park.” Players from Calhoun, Bellmore JFK, Mepham and MacArthur high schools participated in the slugfest to help the 18-year-old, who has been working for the Calhoun Colts as manager and batboy since his middle school days.
“Baseball helps take my mind off everything going on,” Steven Kuzemchak said.
Those close to Steven noted that he always had a smile, even after the diagnosis.
“He hasn’t changed one bit ever since he was diagnosed,” said Calhoun junior Jake Edwards. “Us and Stevie, we all make jokes together,” Edwards said. “We all joke around during practice. He’s like a part of the team. He always has been, ever since I was a freshman.”
Calhoun head coach Art Canestro concurred. “He’s as big a part of this baseball team as anybody’s been.”
A large turnout, which DiMarco said was between 100 and 200 people, raised $5,500 and Smith Street Deli in Merrick donated another $5,000.
“Every year, he’s just gotten closer and closer to me,” DiMarco said. “My wife and I call him our adopted child.”
Edwards led Calhoun to a victory in the home run derby, but Kuzemchak also did his part by stroking a couple of doubles.
“He had smiles all day long,” DiMarco said. “He’s always had smiles on his face, even through this whole ordeal he’s going through.”