Steven Kaminsky, 12, and his teammates have been preparing to go to the Cooperstown Dreams Park Baseball Tournament, which takes place in Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In order to go, they say they've been practicing and fundraising for the last two years.
"We've been practicing so hard. We just can't wait for it, and we've been talking about it for a long time. It's like a dream," said Steven.
They say they were incredibly disappointed when the tournament suddenly released a new requirement last Tuesday. A press release stated, "All participants, coaches and campers 12 years and older must be immunized. Immunization requirements: COVID-19."
"To me, it's crazy that they didn't just settle for negative tests," said parent Brandon McLean.
But right now, there is no coronavirus vaccine approved for children under the age of 16.
"I'm angry," said Steven's mother, Amy Kaminsky. "I'm disappointed, I'm really disappointed in the people that run this tournament."
Amy said the total cost of the tournament is $20,000. She said by canceling, the team had to forfeit $4,000, all of which is fundraised by the kids. If they don't cancel, and can't get vaccinated in time, they'll lose the full $20,000.
LITTLE LEAGUE: The dream baseball tournament (Cooperstown Dreams Park) for these 12 year olds is now *requiring* them to get a COVID vaccine in order to play. (Vax not approved for kids under 16)They’re losing $4k of fundraised money and have to cancel @6abc pic.twitter.com/CeZJo8VrPz— Jaclyn Lee (@JaclynLeeTV) April 12, 2021
"My husband sent an email. We've called a couple times. We haven't gotten really any great responses back," said Amy. "We did get one generic email saying to reach out to your team contact - who happens to be my husband - for clarification. It's hard to get through."
The ABC affiliate in Philadelphia reached out to the Cooperstown Dreams Park organization multiple times over the phone and through email, but has not received any response.
"Everything we worked for is gone," said Steven.