Teen’s fundraising MLB road trip stops in Detroit

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Later this summer, 12-year-old Adam Koss, will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah and per tradition, his service project is to give back to the community.

He may not be celebrating his summer vacation like other kids his age, but with the help of his parents and large companies, Adam is hoping to make one of his dreams come true simultaneously.

Adam is a huge baseball fan from Syracuse, New York, and after months of planning, he will be attending games at each of MLB’s 30 stadiums while raising money for three charities.

His epic cross-country trip began June 22 and Wednesday night’s game at Comerica Park was the sixth stop. The family started with Camden Yards in Baltimore, then Nationals Park in Washington, Yankee Stadium in New York, Fenway Park in Boston and Rogers Centre in Toronto. Their next stop after Detroit will be Progressive Field in Cleveland.

His original goal was to see 50 home runs and raise $10,000. Prior to the Tigers game, Adam had seen 13 home runs and raised $11,500 from five games. Pledges are made through his Home Run Club, a commitment to donate a specific amount for every home run Adam sees along his trip along with single donations on his website.

“Our pledges today run $85 per home run. He also has to witness them. He can’t be off getting a hot dog or something or else it doesn’t count,” said Adam’s father, Lawrence Koss. “We’ll also be seeing the Tigers at least four times on our trip.”

All the proceeds from their trip will be donated to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, St. Baldrick’s and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I really hope this helps kids that have life-threatening diseases; that’s why I’m working with St. Baldrick’s, because they are working for cures,” Adam said. “I also want to create a world without Type 1 diabetes in kids, which led me to Juvenile Foundation,” Adam said. “It’s a wish for a wish. I got my wish, so I want to help another child with their wish.”

When Adam came up with the idea, his father called each of the Major League stadiums and sent out emails to arrange the trip. Once they saw it was an achievable mission, Adam contacted Hilton Hotels, which gave him free rooms for his family’s stays.

Both of his parents, Lawrence, 47, and Andi Koss, 48, came along for the ride. Both work together in physician consulting and made a mobile office in the back of their car.

“Neither of us are really fond of baseball but Adam is. We made it happen,” Lawrence Koss said. “You can’t deny a kid this opportunity to do something so great for other people.”

The family is used to this type of traveling and think it’s great quality time. In 2009, they hit 24 national parks in six months.

“We’re pros. It’s great because most games are at night, so one of us will drive and the other can work,” Andi said. “I calculated the whole trip and it’ll be more than 11,000 miles on our car.”

Adam’s favorite team is the Yankees and his favorite player is Mookie Betts, the right fielder for the Boston Red Sox. Adam said he wants to be a professional bowler and it just so happens that Betts is also a professional bowler.

During his trip, Adam is holding his baseball passport like a prized possession. He receives stamps from every park, keeps score and has space to write what he thinks of each game. He soon turned those diary-like entries into an online blog donors can follow during his trip.

He’s also quite the critic. While in Baltimore he wrote, “As you walk through the park its hard not to be impressed by how clean it is. Someone definitely took their time planning this park out as it remains the model for all other ‘new age’ ballparks.”

During his adventure, he said he has met some players and is having a blast. During the Blue Jays-Orioles game on Tuesday, Troy Tulowitzki’s ninth-inning home run ricocheted and rebounded off multiple seats before finding its way into Adam’s hands out of 40,000 people in the stadium.

“The trip is going to be fun, but I just want to say the goal is to raise money for charity,” he said. “It’s all about charity. I hope to see millions of home runs.”

The Tigers loss on Wednesday  was a win for Adam's charity.

"A loss for the home team but a win for charity with four homeruns, each worth $85. We are now averaging three home runs per game which would bring the total for the Home Run Club and direct donations to well over 13,000 projected."


Twitter: @SarahRahal_