Denison staff build "Field of Dreams" for a young boy

Denison groundskeeping staff with Andrew and the Kodner family

When a little boy with leukemia wanted to “play ball,” Denisonians stepped up to the plate.

Kevin Mercer, Denison’s grounds and landscape services manager, is a friend to Kolt Codner, the father of Andrew, a four-year-old boy with leukemia and a huge heart for baseball - especially his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. When Mercer heard about Andrew’s love of the game, he was determined to build his “field of dreams.”

Mercer reached out to companies and connections from all over Ohio to ask for donations of supplies to build a pint-sized, but regulation-worthy, baseball field in the Codner backyard.

Organizing crews of volunteers, including Denison’s entire grounds team, Mercer and his team built the backyard field in just one day. (Mercer himself spent an extra day on the field coordinating logistics.) Denison’s Director of Athletics, Nan Carney-DeBord ‘80 donated a personalized “Big Red” baseball jersey in Andrew’s size. The Pittsburgh Pirates offered Andrew a key to PNC Park. All told, about $35,000 in labor and supplies has been donated to this effort.

Andrew was in the hospital for tests while the crew built the field. And he came home to a wonderful surprise. Television news crews captured his delight.

“The best part was seeing Little Andrew’s face light up when he saw everything,” says Mercer. “I’m so proud of all our grounds team who donated the better part of two days to build this wonderful field for a little boy they didn’t even know. This is just so typical of the kind of people who work here. Everyone really cares.”

Baseball field
September 30, 2020