Severtson receives Man of the Year Award

© 2017-Moody County Enterprise

When you think of heroes, what do you think of: Spiderman or Wonder Woman?

What if I told you about a hero that doesn't wear a cape and spreads more than just America's past time around the world?

That hero is Craig Severtson, founder of Helping Kids Round First. 

Severtson was awarded Man of the Year from the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association Saturday, August 5, at the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in Mitchell. 

"It's good, every dog has its day," said a humbled Severtson. "It's all about the work."

HKRF is an organization that donates used baseball and softball supplies as well as hospital equipment and farming expertise to communities in rural Nicaragua. 

Nicaragua is located in the middle of Central American and has fought through decades of political unrest and financial difficulties, making it the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere. 

"It's no different from you and I talking here," Severtson said on if he thought he was hero. "We were born lucky, we live here with the same people, same smiles, same happiness, except add in no money or breaks."

Severtson found out about Nicaragua through his traveling in the 1970s and 80s when he was younger. 

Discovering the poverty and love for baseball in the country, he decided to help by giving the kids baseball equipment.

After a time lapse, in the early 2000s, the project started again due to a man from Arlington who asked for baseballs to take to Nicaragua through a doctor from Spearfish. 

From there, the organization grew to become a nonprofit organization and expanded into health and medical supplies. 

The three objectives are simple: collect and distribute used baseball equipment, assist with organizing baseball clinics for youth within rural communities, nationally and internationally and help communities generate sustainable activities that benefit youth physically as well as emotionally. 

Severtson figured our what he wanted to do. With his loving attitude, it's not hard to find what motivates him. 

"You're born with certain qualities, and this fit me: baseball and rural poverty," Severtson said. "One person can make a big difference."

HKRF really took off in 2009, but Severtson has been doing this for years. 

Now, with the help of others, the program is changing the world. 

Many years ago, HKRF got their foot in the door through the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope. Severtson said there is no reason to leave and the organization has only grown.

In the United States, Global Health Ministries in Minneapolis helps with supplying hospital equipment, and the South Dakota Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America helps with other supply needs. 

In September 2018, a large shipment with baseball and softball supplies will be heading to Nicaragua

Severtson is gearing up for a national tour of about 60 collegiate softball and baseball teams to collect equipment. 

They want to have 20,000 pounds for the next shipment and are about halfway there. 

Severtson said they are usually short on gloves and balls, but make up for it through generous donations. 

The South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association Man of the Year Award is given to a person who has given himself for the betterment of amateur baseball in South Dakota.

Severtson not only gives for the game, but enjoyed playing the game as well. 

Now retired from baseball, he passion remains spreading the joy of the game to others across the world. 

For more information, visit helpingkidsroundfirst.org. 

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