|Community comes together to fulfill Treyton Kilar's dream|
|Written by Todd Mishler/Walworth County Sunday|
|Friday, 02 September 2011 11:52|
Two fundraisers are being planned to raise money for the Treyton Kilar Field of Dreams. Kilar was killed in Sept. 2010 when a drunken driver slammed into the car Kilar was riding in. Family photo.
(Read the story in the Sept. 4, 2011 e-edition HERE.)
WHITEWATER — He wasn’t much different than millions of other youngsters who’ve idolized their Major League heroes since the late 19th century.
Although many others may have equaled his passion for baseball, those who knew him would argue that no one loved America’s pastime more than Treyton Kilar.
The 6-year-old Whitewater boy’s favorite team, understandably, was the Milwaukee Brewers, while his favorite player was Prince Fielder. And Treyton gave his mother, Mary, strict instructions never to wash his No. 28 replica jersey — Fielder’s number.
Tragically, Treyton didn’t get to wear that jersey nearly long enough. The last time was Sept. 8, 2010, when the new first-grader at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Jefferson was buried in it.
Treyton’s dream was to follow in the slugging first baseman’s footsteps and play professionally at Miller Park. But that dream was cut short when a drunk driver slammed into the minivan that his father, Mike, was driving home from his sister Rosie’s volleyball match in East Troy.
Mike Kilar eventually recovered from his serious injuries, but Treyton was pronounced dead about 90 minutes after the crash, which took place at Wisconsin Highway 20 and County Highway N in Troy Township.
Two fundraisers are coming up to help support the Treyton Kilar Field of Dreams
• Play a Day for Trey, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 10 at Rox Sports Bar, N3656 County Highway K, Jefferson. Activities include a sand volleyball tournament, Zumba, bounce house, children’s games, raffles, pig roast, bake sale and music.
• Run for Trey, Oct. 16 at Starin Park in Whitewater. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the 5K run/walk starts at 10 a.m. with a children’s obstacle course and a brat fry to follow. The entry fee is $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event.
Mary is principal at St. John and an assistant varsity volleyball coach for Whitewater High School. She had taken care of her post-game duties and was driving the family car, arriving at the horrific scene about 10 minutes after the crash.
The Kilars can’t bring their only son back, but they and their family are doing their best to turn tragedy into triumph by honoring Treyton’s life.
To that end, they’ve collected about $170,000 of their $474,000 goal to build the Treyton Kilar Field of Dreams, a youth baseball field that they hope will keep the boy’s memory alive while allowing other youngsters to enjoy what Treyton loved best — playing baseball.
Mary Kilar said that the field project has provided them with a coping mechanism, and the outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike has helped them heal.
“Mike was still in the hospital when some family friends came to us with the idea, and we decided that we needed to move forward with this project,” she said. “When we think back to that night, there’s no words that can express the devastation that we faced. It shook us to our core, and there’s not a day that we don’t feel the pain of losing Treyton. But I don’t know where we’d be without the support we’ve received. The way they’ve rallied around us and this project has truly been a wonderful gift from the community.”
The project’s aim is to build a 225-foot field with concrete dugouts, fencing, concession stands and lights at Starin Park. The 35-acre park buffers the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and includes two youth baseball fields, an adult softball diamond, a community building, a large playground and shelters.
The field of dreams would dominate the northeast corner of the property, which is bordered on the east by Fremont Street and on the south by Starin Road.
Matt Amundson, parks and recreation director for the city of Whitewater, said the Kilar family always has been active in the city’s youth sports programs.
“Whenever we’ve needed something, the Kilars have jumped in and helped or been willing to be instructors,” Amundson said.
Amundson and many others are trying to return the favor in their own small ways, and the effort continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
“The city had purchased a home and discussed razing it to use for a third youth baseball field,” Amundson said. “We came up with a concept for the field, and the rec department and people in the community endorsed it.
“ ... we wanted something more than a standard youth ball field. We wanted to do something special in Treyton’s memory, something that alerts people about the effects of destructive decisions. We wanted to create a signature field ... with concrete dugouts and synthetic turf. We wanted a Little League field with a big-league atmosphere.”
Speaking of big-league attitudes, the Brewers organization has shown its support by donating items to various fundraising ventures. And Fielder, who met Treyton at the team’s annual On Deck celebration in January 2010, showed what he’s made of earlier this summer.
“I had sent Prince the picture we took of him with Treyton from that day along with a letter thanking him,” Mary Kilar said. “He said he kept it in his locker and that it helps him put things in perspective.”
Fielder went another step June 8 after his two homers, including a game-tying shot in the eighth, helped the Crew post a 7-6, come-from-behind win over the New York Mets.
“He asked the guys in the bullpen to save that second home run ball and gave it to us when he invited us into the locker room after the game,” she said. “We got to meet Ryan Braun and some other players, and he introduced us to one of his sons. Some people don’t think so, but Prince is a great idol and family man.”
The Kilars can count many such heartfelt gestures during the past year, and these examples have inspired them to continue their work.
So, the planning, cost estimating and fundraising efforts continue.
“We don’t want to start (construction) and not be able to complete it, and the city and parks and recreation don’t have the extra funds right now,” Amundson said. “But we’re heavily involved in the process and working hard on getting quotes on potential costs and approval for everything. We’ve received a lot of pledges for support from local plumbers and masons who want to volunteer time and supplies once we get to that point.”
The latest fundraising event was the 10th annual Friends of the Program golf outing, which was held Aug. 20 at Prairie Woods in Avalon.
The project missed out on one of two $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grants in January — it finished third — but the Kilars were scheduled to receive word this past Thursday whether they’d be in the running for a $50,000 grant. This effort would require supporters to go online to www.refresheverything.com and vote for field of dreams during September.
Regardless of what happens with the potential Pepsi grant, the family believes that Treyton’s diamond soon will provide a safe place for kids and families to celebrate life and remember how to make responsible, life-long decisions, especially when drinking and thinking about getting behind the wheel are concerned.
“Like at the Rox, we’ll have Safe Ride available for people living in Jefferson, Fort Atkinson or Whitewater,” Mary Kilar said. “These places have been so supportive, but this also allows us to educate people and remind them to drink responsibly and always have a plan. Events like this have been so wonderful, because we’re not even the ones spearheading them. We’ve had so many people just go out and raise funds on their own.”
She said the whole idea is for people, especially children, to keep dreaming big.
“This has been such a community builder,” she said. “It’s helped us just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Another example is the schools, because they’re teaching the kids about service and doing something that’s bigger and outside of themselves. Students have been wearing (field of dreams) T-shirts and getting on Facebook.
“This has been such a long process and a lot of hard work, but we’ve been so touched by everybody’s generosity, and it’ll be all worth it when we see the first child hit that field,” she added.