Photo By : Tim Martin
Article By: Matt Collette
”This is very exciting for us,” said Nick Jonas, speaking to reporters before the game. “First of all, kickball is like recess from our tour. But more importantly, we're here helping important causes.”
”We are here to help out - in a fun sort of way - people who are in a not-so-good place,” added Kevin Jonas.
Before the game, Verizon donated $5,000 to the Women's Center of Southeastern Connecticut and the phone company asked fans in attendance to donate used cell phones and accessories to its HopeLine program, which provides phones for victims of domestic abuse.
”This event allows us to reach an audience that we really need,” said Kate Griffith Potter of the Women's Center of Southeastern Connecticut. Young girls, who make up a large portion of the Jonas Brothers' fan base, are at risk for dating violence, she said.
When the Jonas Brothers took the field, Dodd Stadium erupted with deafening screams from the crowd of 5,000. By comparison, the final Connecticut Defenders home game on Sept. 16, drew 1,000 less fans.
The Jonas Brothers' team, the Kickballers, included five kids selected for their involvement in local organizations.
”I'm pretty excited I'm going to be playing kickball,” said 16-year-old Ashbow Sebastian, who lives in North Stonington and is a longtime volunteer for the United Way.
”He works hard,” said his mother, Colleen Sebastian. “He gives back to the community like a rock star. I'm glad he's getting this recognition.”
Melanie Hopkins, a 14-year-old from Lebanon who plays golf and runs track in the Special Olympics, was excited and confident before the game.
”I'm pretty sure we're going to win,” she bragged.
The Kickballers won both their games against the Love Bugs and Black Keys, two teams made up of winners of the Verizon Green Screen Community Contest, which called for fans to edit themselves into videos of the Jonas Brothers in concert and playing kickball.
When Sophie Baum, 9, sang the national anthem, you'd have thought her last name was Jonas from the volume of the screams. Sophie, who lives in Woodbridge, has Type I diabetes like Nick Jonas.
”It's cool that I can look up to people like him,” she said.
Sophie was selected to sing because of her work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a group she has helped raise $115,000 for since 2003.
”It's a great opportunity for her,” said her mom, Diane Fine. “She loves to sing.”
Brenna Skelly, 16, and three friends sat directly behind home plate. The girls, who won tickets from a radio station then drove to Norwich from Wethersfield, said they were hoping to meet their idols.
”They're good boys and they have good values,” Brenna said. “And it doesn't hurt that they're like the most beautiful people in the world. We know all their songs by heart. We just love them.”