12HM teamThe Hope Mills Nationals 8U baseball team will carry the North Carolina Dixie Youth Baseball state title banner to Ruston, Louisiana, in search of a championship. But to get there, they'll need a lot of financial support.

Jesse Cox, one of the coaches of the Hope Mills team, said a fundraiser has been started to try and cover the numerous expenses involved with getting the squad of 12 players and four coaches to their destination.

“We are looking at having to reuniform our team in North Carolina attire,’’ Cox said. “We’ll have some expense in that.’’

But that’s only the tip of this expensive iceberg. The distance by road from Hope Mills to Ruston is just under 1,000 miles and will take just over 13 hours by car. The tournament is scheduled to run July 26-30, and the Hope Mills team is hoping to rent as many as 20 rooms for the players and coaches. Those rooms will cost from $120-$150 per night.

Figuring out how to handle transportation is also a challenge. Cox doesn’t want to rent a full-sized bus. The team hopes to be in Louisiana for more than a couple of days, and a bus would not be a convenient way to make repeated trips to the ballpark and other places.

“We want to be more mobile,’’ he said, considering possibilities like passenger vans or carpooling in SUVs because of the large amount of baseball equipment they’ll need to transport.

Flying wouldn’t be cost effective, he said, unless someone out there wants to offer the team use of an airplane.

“They are a special team and group, and you do want to make it fun,’’ Cox said. But, he also noted, “I’m going down there to win that thing, to compete.

“The town and community should realize this is not only for Hope Mills but the state of North Carolina,’’ he said. “It gives us the opportunity to represent this town in a broad spectrum. We want to do everything possible to get these boys down there, to get them there and enjoy themselves.’’

Sponsorships are available for larger donors from $250 to $1,000. All major donors get their name or business logo on the team banner.

The team is also selling 50/50 tickets for cash only. A date for the 50/50 drawing had not been established at press time.

The GoFundMe web address for the team is www.gofundme.com/state-championship-bound. The page was originally created to raise money for the trip to the state finals in Brunswick County.

Editor's note: The Hope Mills 10U softball team came out of the losers bracket last Wednesday afternoon and defeated Lumberton 2-1 to win the 10U Dixie Softball state championship. In doing so, it become the second Hope Mills team advancing to a Dixie Youth World Series.

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