First ever Hike for Mike to remember coach, father and friend
By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM Michael Farrell was a lot of things to a lot of people -- a youth baseball coach, founder of an American Legion baseball team, a college professor, a businessman, a husband, a father, a friend.
Farrell passed away suddenly last August at the age of 52. Those who knew him are now organizing an event to honor his memory.
The first ever Hike for Mike will be taking place June 7 at the Post Office Park on Boston Road. The event is being organized by the Friends of Mike Farrell group, and proceeds from the hike will benefit the Farrell Children's Education Fund, the general maintenance of the new baseball field to be named in his honor and a Minnechaug Regional High School scholarship.
Ellen Schmutte, a member of Friends of Mike Farrell, knew Farrell for more than 35 years. She went to high school with him and reconnected with him and his family when her family moved to Wilbraham in 1992.
"Besides being one of the winningest coaches in Wilbraham youth baseball for over 12 years, one of the most memorable things about Michael was the size of his heart," Schmutte said. "There isn't a former baseball player in Wilbraham who could forget the pizza parties after the games, the trips to the batting cages, the team jackets for winning the league championships and the list goes on and on."
Kevin Burnham, a fellow member of the friends group, agreed.
"Mike was fun. He loved to have a good time, especially with the kids," Burnham said. "He was a people person. There could be a hundred different people in a room with a hundred different ideas, and he could bring them all together."
"He continually shared his gifts in a most unassuming way, never expecting anything in return," Schmutte added.
"The walk seemed like a fitting way to give people an affordable way to give something in return," she continued.
These are just some of the reasons why the Friends of Mike Farrell are coming together to posthumously thank him for everything he did in the community. Besides serving as a youth baseball coach, Farrell was a professor at Springfield Technical Community College and the owner of Northeast Financial, a consulting business in Wilbraham.
The Hike for Mike will include a three-mile walk around the Post Office Park area, followed by a picnic at the Spec Pond Pavilion. Registration for the walk will begin at 9 a.m., with the picnic taking place from noon to 4 p.m. There is no minimum amount of money need to participate, but the first 250 walkers with $25 or more in pledges will receive free T-shirts.
Schmutte said it seemed appropriate to host the walk at the Post Office Park/Spec Pond complex since a baseball diamond in that area will be named after Farrell.
"I think the hike will be a great time," Burnham said. "There should be hundreds of people there if everyone he coached or taught or did business with, everyone he reached in his life, comes."
Anyone wishing to participate in the Hike for Mike is encouraged to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a pledge form or make a donation.
The Friends of Mike Farrell Web site, www.friendsofmikefarrell.com
, will be launched soon.