Homerun Hopefuls was founded in 2003 by Brett Kalikow, then a 15-year-old high school sophomore at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, New York. That year, Brett went on a family vacation to the resort area of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Brett befriended a hotel waiter who, like Brett, was an avid baseball player, and who offered to take Brett to his home city of Higuey to play a pick-up game of baseball with local ballplayers. During the ride to the city, Brett had his first encounter with global poverty, witnessing families living in rundown shacks of rotted wood and corrugated tin, without plumbing or electricity. He watched children, barefoot, playing baseball in a vacant, rocky cow pasture using empty milk cartons fashioned into baseball mitts, tree branches as bats, and stones wrapped in tape as balls.
These images spurred Brett to return home and give talks at school assemblies around Manhattan to convince students to donate their gently used baseball equipment, clothing and sneakers for the children of the DR. With the support of his parents, Rosemary and Richard Kalikow, he went to the Dominican Consulate to figure out a way to ensure that his collection would be distributed to the neediest children. There, Brett met Luis Ernesto Ducasse, then the Dominican Consulate’s Public Relations Director of Sports, who accompanied Brett and his family to the DR that summer to personally give out the collected equipment to organized leagues in the poorest areas of the country.
Since that first year, Homerun Hopefuls has conducted annual collection drives in the United States followed by summer trips to the Dominican Republic to personally distribute our collections. The organization has grown to include dozens of past and current teen volunteers who have organized equipment and clothing collections, raised money through bake sales and other grassroots efforts, and travelled together to the Dominican Republic each summer.
Homerun Hopefuls was incorporated as a New York Not-For-Profit Corporation in 2005 and recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service in 2006.