Tag Archives: Carter Bassler

Soccer Players Give Bridgeport The Boot

Some Westport teenagers do community service far from home. They build toilets in Honduras, or schools in Africa.

Some do what they can much closer to home.

Thanks to Staples High School boys soccer reserve (junior varsity) coaches Russell Oost-Lievense and Reilly Lynch, 10 varsity and reserve Wreckers are spending the spring working with younger boys and girls just a few miles away in Bridgeport.

This is the 3rd year that Russell — himself a former Staples captain, now a special education teacher — has worked with Brighter Lives for Kids. The non-profit runs in-school and after-school programs for underserved youngsters.

He organizes the soccer component. Last year, 8 Staples players volunteered at the Cesar Batalla School. Twice a week for 8 weeks, they helped 60 boys and girls learn to play and love soccer. They also mentor the kids.

From left: Ana Simunovic, Sam Liles, Vig Kareddy, Callum Wisher, Russell Oost-Lievense and Brendan Lynch, with their eager young players in Bridgeport.

This spring, Russell has expanded the program. It’s now twice a week for 10 weeks, and involves 80 children.

One of the driving forces — last year and this — is current junior Carter Bassler.

He enlisted teammates Emerson Anvari, Surya Balaji, Colin Corneck, Josh DeDomenico, Sam Liles, Brendan Lynch, Patricio Perez Elorza, Enzo Valadares and Callum Wisher. Former player Vignesh Kareddy also participates.

It’s a fantastic, important program. 100% of Cesar Batalla students qualify for state-provided breakfast and lunch by the school, because they fall into the highest bracket of poverty. They have little access to sports, beyond this program.

Of course, it takes money — for equipment, transportation and more. Click here for a GoFundMe page.

In addition, soccer shoes and shin guards can be donated in Westport. A box is set up at the front door of 40 Sturges Commons (with security camera), between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Westport teenagers do plenty of good things, when no one is watching. Whether it’s halfway around the globe, or just up the road.

12 Hrs 4 12K

Ten years ago, David and Gwen Baker’s oldest daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The incurable illness — and related inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis — cause abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever and weight loss. They may also attack the joints, skin, bones, kidneys, liver and eyes.

Needless to say, IBD affects not only the 5 million people worldwide who suffer from it, but their entire families.

Baker knew what was ahead for his child. His family has a history of Crohn’s. Unfortunately, 2 years later one of their other girls faced the same agonizing diagnosis.

The Bakers are not alone. But David banded together with Westport friends whose children also have Crohn’s. They’re fighting the battle with fitness.

Last year group member Peter Bassler rode his bike for 24 hours straight — and raised over $24,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

This year, the 4 friends — including David Kaplan and David Popkin — will all ride for 12 hours. They’ve set individual goals of $12,000 each — nearly $50,000 total. They call the event “12 Hours 4 12K.”

The quartet knows they’re not superheroes. So they’re asking others to help out. You can take an hour on the bike to relieve them — or clip in your own bike and cycle alongside (adding your own fundraising to theirs).

It happens on Saturday, May 20 (6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Total Training and Endurance, across from New Country Toyota). There will be plenty of activities all day (and food!).

The date is significant: May 19 is World IBD Day.

TT Bassler will be riding for his older brother Carter.

“It’s frustrating and heartbreaking to see your child in pain,” Popkin says. “It’s unbearable to have your child subjected to intense medications that might work for only a short time, or have them tethered to IVs for infusions that come with potentially dire side effects.”

He noted that all 4 of the riders’ children have missed school, endured numerous ER visits and hospital stays. Some have had multiple surgeries and invasive tests.

“Battling Crohn’s disease, like my son Carter has for more than 8 years, requires strength, resilience and determination,” Bassler says.

He, the 2 other Davids and Baker are also strong, resilient and determined to help find a cure. They hope many Westport friends — and strangers — will join them.

(To donate, click here. To relieve or ride along with the 4 bikers, email peterbassler89@gmail.com)

Click below for an inspiring video — featuring a young Carter Bassler. He’s now a Staples High School soccer player.