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Book 'em: Baseball books for the young and young at heart

Baseball brings out the kid in us because it is such a kid-friendly game. That is obvious in books
that are hitting the shelves.

A Glove ofTheir Own by Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling and Lisa Funari-Willever and illustrated by Lauren Lambiase is a story of sandlot kids who inspire an adult to share in their experience.

The little we had was so worn out and old, That a new bat or new cleats was worth more than gold.

It also inspired Bob Salomon, a New Jersey state worker to make the book a personal project and a fund-raiser for kids and baseball.(Book cover courtesy of Franklin Mason Press)

His efforts have picked up sponsors from Rawlings to Louisville Slugger to Modell’s, and endorsements from major leaguers. It also spawned the website,

 “I’m a Little League dad and father of two,” said Salomon. “I read this book, I got chills. I started calling people. I followed my heart, my passion. Parents have loved it because it is a message to their kids to do what is fair and what’s right and it reminds them of their childhood.”

Some other books to get your child, or your inner-child ready for the next 5 1/2 months. Please comment and let us know your favorite baseball book.

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Bernie Williams Drives Home The Winning Message Of "A Glove Of Their Own"

by Todd Civin Columnist

When any baseball fan hears the name Bernie Williams, a distinct image immediately comes to mind.  Brimming with class, a confident smile, and, of course, dressed in pinstripes, Williams is to the Yankees what The Stadium is to the Yankees—forever connected until the very end of time.

Williams, however, possesses the undeniable character traits which transcend the uniform and are universally admired by fans from New York, Chicago and yes, even Boston, whenever his name is mentioned.

"Bernie Williams is a class act," explains Bob Salomon, coach of the award-winning children's story A Glove of Their Own. "I guarantee you that every teammate, every opponent, and every fan of baseball describes him in much the same way. A kind and caring family man, who also happened to be one hell of a baseball player."

"Bernie, the man, is far bigger than any stats he put up on the board," added Salomon, who is the "man behind the movement" that has the entire baseball world talking about his wonderful children's story.

"He defines what my project is all about."

Williams is the latest in a growing roster of star players and coaches who, not only promote A Glove of Their Own, but who have aligned themselves with its message of giving.

"It's about paying it forward and that is what these players are all about. Players like  Jason Grilli, Joe Torre, Tommy John, Dick Drago, Craig Biggio, Roy White, Phil Niekro, Ken Griffey and Luis Tiant Jr. These are the players who have become synonymous with kindness and have become such a huge part of the movement that surrounds the pages of the book."

Salomon and authors Keri Conkling, Debbie Moldovan, and Lisa Funari-Willever created A Glove of Their Own less than a year ago as a way to teach kids about paying it forward through baseball.

The book has a heartfelt, rhyming message that allows children to experience giving through a simple act of kindness performed by a stranger. It is through this act that the message of the book becomes apparent.

Salomon, a Little League coach, husband and father of two, considers himself fortunate to work with the players and often has difficulty understanding the magnitude of what he is building.

"I speak to these athletes frequently. Guys like Drago, Tiant, Jr. and Tommy John have become my friends. Their advice is invaluable and we share a mutual love of the game."

"Bernie and the other players worked their whole career to project a certain image every time they put on the uniform. They played the game the right way. They were bigger than steroids, cheating and skyrocketing salaries, and they each lived their life outside of baseball in much the same way."

"I'm confident that if you took the salaries out of the game, these guys would still suit up each day, slap on some eye-black and be at the field two hours before game time. That's what these guys stand for and what my book stands for, too."

Salomon speaks endlessly about using the book to heal the black eye that baseball has gotten in recent years. He is passionate about cleaning up the negativity that surrounds the sport and uses the book as part of his platform to resurrect the game's image.

"Baseball has gotten a bad name and that really upsets me. It's time to start discussing the positives in baseball. To bring baseball back to what it was intended to be. Baseball is a kids game. This is what my whole project is about. Giving baseball and all the goodness that surrounds it back to the kids."

Like perhaps no other, Salomon is humbled by the greatness of the line-up he has assembled and is grateful for their participation in the project.

"This isn't about statistics. It's about the character of the man. This All-Star team is about far more than hits, walks and errors. It's about life."

And the addition of Williams gives Salomon the clean-up hitter that allows him to knock his message home.

"Bernie represents what this project is all about. The man lives to give."

"People often forget about the goodness that these athletes try to promote. That's why they start their own foundations. As a way to thank God for the amazing good fortune that they have been blessed with."

Players, coaches and organizations like Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, Modell's Sporting Goods, Upper Deck and iFungo have also aligned themselves with the book and are using it as part of their campaign of giving.

For each sale of the book, $3.30 is donated to any of the 100 affiliated non-profit organizations listed on a drop down menu on the book's popular Web site.

"We have some wonderful organizations that are benefiting from sales of the book. Groups like Covenant House, who recently came on board and does so many great things for homeless children. It is a great pleasure to welcome them as part of the Glove team."

According to Salomon, he's nowhere near finished with his vision.  He has plans to continually update the book to include a reference section where fans can be made aware of the players foundations and showcase all the good that they do off the field.

"The final step in my project is to hold a huge charity event that brings all of the players together to simply thank them and to let the fans thank them. Then—and only then—will my mission be complete."


Todd Civin is a freelance writer for Bleacher Report, Seamheads and Boston Sports Then and Now. He can be reached at He is also a supporter of A Glove of Their Own, the award winning children's story that teaches paying it forward through baseball.

Please visit the site at and purchase the book under today's donor code CVH113 Covenant House Foundation or RWF626 The Roy White Foundation as $3.00 from each book sold will be donated to these wonderful charities, while an additional .30 will be used to purchase sporting equipment for underprivileged children.

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Debbie Moldovan and Keri Conkling, both mothers of Little League baseball players, spontaneously hugged each other in the kitchen of Moldovan's home in Basking Ridge, NJ recently. They were celebrating the imminent arrival this month of what they characterize as their "miracle - a one in a million shot" - the publication of a hardcover children's book they wrote together.

Titled "A Glove of Their Own,'' the 32-page volume of rhyming poetic verse fiction is the first published book for both authors. The poem is a vignette about a group of about 10 boys and girls in the 8-to-12 age range who are playing baseball with a scant amount of worn down baseball equipment.

Most don't have their own mitts and have to borrow and share. Next, a gray and silver-haired man - looking to be at retirement age and sporting a burnt orange baseball cap - is shown watching the children play. He becomes the children's fan, and notices that only a few of the players had mitts.

He goes away and soon comes back with a full bag of baseball gear that he had kept from his earlier days as a baseball coach. Each boy and girl gets a glove of his and her own.

The joy the boys and girls experience when receiving their own mitts and other equipment -- and the giving by the man who after this gesture wore a tear on his cheek – as well as the inspiration one child, the narrator, feels as a result, form the essence of the story.

The back story of this book matches the transcendental and inspirational qualities of the book itself. Three years ago Moldovan, a 39-year-old mother of two boys and one girl, asked her son Tyler what he would like to do for his imminent 9th birthday. He didn't want presents, he told her, just friends to come to his house and play baseball in his backyard.

From this input the mother hatched the idea to host a "Grand Slam Birthday Party." The plan was for her son's friends to play Whiffle ball in her family's backyard. Her husband, Rob, made a scoreboard for the game out of wood, paint, and hooks. He also added the idea to ask the friends to bring over their extra baseball equipment that would be donated to organizations who could distribute it to kids who didn't have their own.

Seventeen boys attended and played in the game. Donations proved to be a smashing success. Some 100 pieces of equipment - gloves, cleats, baseball pants and more -- were given to Pitch in for Baseball in Fort Washington, Pa., a charitable organization for improving the lives of children in need through baseball.

After the party that same day, moved by the abundance of generosity and pure baseball bliss she had witnessed, Moldovan sat down at her computer and wrote a poem in two hours. This act was, in her words, "the story that had to be told."

"Knowing there were kids in our country and all over the world who wanted to play baseball but had little or no equipment was upsetting to me," said Moldovan, who has also written about another 12 poems for personal use. "I couldn't get the thought out of my head that every child should have 'a glove of their own'. I saw the joy that baseball brought to my children and wanted all children to have that experi­ence.

"So I read the poem and said to myself that my dream would be that the written piece become a published book. But I knew it was a one in a million shot to get a children's book published."

Although she knew her story held intrinsic goodness and a global human sentiment, she let the poem sit quietly on her computer for about two years because "it was a really personal story."

The thought of somebody not wanting to publish it was tough for her to contemplate, she said. "But I would love for every child to have a glove of their own. Kids always find a way to play."

Enter the 37-year-old Conkling, seemingly by some cosmic coincidence. A mother of seven-year-old Holly and five-year-old Will, she had become "instant friends" with Moldovan in September 2006, around the time she moved to Basking Ridge from Howell, NJ. One day in September 2007, while Conkling visited her friend's house, the two women started talking about their mutual desires to become published authors.

Each had routinely written poems for the teachers at their children's schools. Moldovan then shared her baseball poem. Conkling read it and was instantly moved. She also saw how the story could be improved by adding more emotions about the children.

"Keri added such soul to the book," Moldovan said. "She added the whole idea of kids playing and envisioning themselves as Major Leaguers."

Conkling, who has written about 40 poems, contributed something else of value -- a man named Bob Salomon she had known for several years from her previous Howell neighborhood.

A 41-year-old state employee, husband, father of two and a Little League baseball coach, Salomon held been orchestrating annual block parties in Howell for several years which Conkling attended. At these events she learned about his altruistic nature. His parties featured local businesses donating various items to those in need. She knew her friend always had "big ideas, big dreams and a big heart."

"When she read it to me my first reaction was that I saw a thousand visions in front of me," Salomon said. "My whole arm was full of goose bumps. I knew when she read the story I was going to bring it to a national level. I don't know how it came over me. There's a lot of faith involved in this. I believe "A Glove of Their Own'' will eventually be the No. 1 selling children's book."

Despite having no experience in the publishing industry, he started researching about children's book publishers and discovered Lisa Funari-Willever. He learned she was the founder of a children's book publishing company called Franklin Mason Press that had a dual mission: to produce high-quality books and support children's charities with donations from each book sold.

Salomon made his first call to the publisher in November of last year.

"I got very excited because this book was a perfect match in my mind," he said.

Funari-Willever, whose eight-year-old son Patrick plays Little League baseball, receives about 1,000 unsolicited phone calls each year from people pitching her book proposals and ask­ing about the publishing industry. She almost never ends up publishing a book based on these calls In fact, when Salomon's called, she wasn't inclined to even pick up the phone and only did because she thought her child's school was calling.

She was polite, Salomon said, but he sensed she was ready to hang up.

"Then I said 'I have a sports book that is absolutely amazing.' I asked her how many children's books have to sell for it to be generally considered successful. She said 'about 30 to 40,000.' I said: 'I'm looking way higher than that.' "

Funari-Willever told him to send her a copy of the manuscript.

"When Bob called my first reaction and intuition was to decline," the publisher said. "But the way he described it there was a very endearing quality to the book, even before I read the story."

"I knew it had so much potential," she added. "The concept was fantastic."

During the next month, Salomon set up a conference call with the publisher. "When I told her everything I planned to do to promote this book, she saw the enthusiasm, some of my ideas. That's when we went berserk."

"It kind of blows me away this whole thing has actually happened," said the 38-year-old publisher who lives in Columbus, NJ. "The entire back story has made it very special. We see tons of potential right out of the gate."

Funari-Williver became the third author of the book, providing editorial adjustments.

"She made the book sing," Moldovan said.

"The thing about this book is that "everybody's heart is in the right place," Funari-Willever said. "There's always some book proposal I receive that stands out each year. This was the one. I think it will be as popular with adults as children. Kids are so over­scheduled nowadays. They don't have time to go out and make things up, be creative, think for themselves. People are yearning for the simplicity of the world the book describes."

Since he embarked on this project nine months ago, Salomon has placed more than 1,000 phone calls to promote this book. His full-throttle marketing campaign eventually led to his forming with his wife, Martha, a marketing company named Danjulie Associates.

The firm's mission is rallying corporations, organizations and sports lovers in pursuing values of sportsmanship, teamwork and getting kids back outside and into the game of sports and life. The book champion has landed endorsements and pro­motional deals from a wide range of people, including professional baseball players Craig Biggio and Sean Casey.

"I go against the norm," Salomon said. "Everybody usually does the same thing. Nine out of 10 people answer the same way. I like to be different, not showing off but being real. There's no hidden agenda with this book. You have to have a sense of imagination and have your heart in the right place. My passion is helping kids."

Furthermore, Franklin Mason Press has chosen the following charitable organizations to be its designat­ed partners for this book. They are: Good Sports, which has provided more than $3.1 million worth of baseball gear and impacted more than 150,000 young people; Pitch in for Baseball, which has collected and redistributed baseball and softball equipment and uniforms to underserved children in more than 50 countries and more than 100 communities in the United States; and Sports Gift, which provides equipment to help underprivileged children all over the world play sports.

Ten cents from the sales of each book will be automatically donated to each of these three outfits. And when each organization sells books through its membership or fund-raisers, the publisher will donate $3.00 per book.

Other organizations associated with the "A Glove of Their Own'' movement include Rawlings, Louisville Slugger, Modell's Sporting Goods, K.I.D.S., The Boomer Esiason Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey, Cheerful Givers, Sunshine Foundation, USA Cares and Sharing Village Cancer Survivor Groups.

Conkling, whose husband played baseball for Fordham University, said the best part of the book is the momentum behind it.

"People have this longing to be attached to this book, which is about our love of children. Our kids are proud of us. We will be in the libraries at their schools. There's nothing better. We're already living a dream life. Getting this book published is icing on the cake."

The book is priced at $15.95. To order a copy, go to or





The Future of Olympic Baseball Rests in His Capable Hands

By Todd Clvin July 02 , 2009


Up until yesterday, my heroes of baseball included Roy Hobbs, Ray Kinsella, Henry Aaron, and my son, Corey.  Each holds a special place in my heart for a multitude of different reasons and for what they represent in my thousands of fond baseball memories.

After speaking yesterday with Dr. Harvey Schiller, President of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), it is quite clear that I need to make space for yet another hero of the sport I love.

Though his name will never be found in a box score or the record book of baseball history, Schiller may forever be remembered as the man who saved Olympic baseball.

Schiller and the rest of the IBAF are faced with the daunting task of trying to get baseball reinstated into the 2016 Olympics for the games of the XXXI Olympiad.

Imagine the immense pressure and the magnitude of the task resting on Schiller's shoulders, as the future of the the inclusion of baseball on this International stage rests in peril.

"We have done everything asked of us by the Olympic movement, including stepping up our anti-doping policy, in order to meet the requirements to return to the Olympic Games," said Dr. Schiller who was elected as President of the IBAF in 2007.

Schiller and the IBAF insist that its Olympic hopes should not be hurt by the high-profile doping controversies in Major League Baseball involving such stars as Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Barry Bonds.

In a June 13 article written by Simon Ward, Schiller stated “We have millions of people who play the game, billions of people who watch the game. Why should young people around the world be denied the opportunity to play in the Olympics by these few?”

“Despite some of the recent headlines, baseball as a sport has never been better positioned globally for success,” explained Dr. Schiller.

Schiller and several other IBAF dignitaries traveled to Japan in mid-June to present their case to the International Olympic Committee and feel confident that the meeting went well.

Following the meeting, Schiller held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo and revealed that in order to have MLB players participate in the Olympics, IBAF is proposing a plan to shorten the duration of the tournament from 11 days to five days.

"I have requested all the owners to send their best players to the Olympics. I am confident about it”, added Schiller.

Baseball, along with softball were both voted out of the 2012 Olympics to be held in London and is one of seven sports seeking to fill the two available openings in the games of 2016. The other sports vying for the two spots are karate, golf, roller sports, rugby sevens, softball, and squash.

The IBAF is the governing body of all International competition in baseball, excluding when a Major League team travels to a foreign land to play and includes the recently completed World Baseball Classic.

so accurately explains, "Baseball is not Korean, or American or Japanese or Cuban. Baseball is global."

"It's played by millions of children and adults in 100 different countries. It has been played at the Olympics beginning in 1904, and has been a medal sport since 1992."

The IBAF has recently extended support of the book "A Glove of Their Own" to help further their cause and will be sending one of the award winning children's book to each of the participating countries around the globe.

"We feel that the principals of fair play, sharing and inclusiveness exhibited in the book are perfect examples of the values baseball teaches to people around the world. The organization will partner with the "A Glove of Their Own" team to get the book to as many members of the IOC as possible as an example of how baseball can unify all."

"Since the book is geared to young people, perhaps those reading it and sharing it will some day be rewarded with an Olympic experience due to the lessons taught in the book."

The IBAF will also hopes to encourage sales of the book to their Federations throughout the world, with proceeds going to the IBAF Charity "Pitch In For Baseball."

As the site explains, "The first recorded account of a baseball game was in 1838 in Beechville, Ontario, Canada. Likewise, the faces of baseball come from Ghana and Uganda; from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela; from the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Poland and Latvia; from Israel and Jordan; from Korea, China, Chinese Taipei and Singapore, New Zealand and Australia."

All of the players, all the fans, all the coaches and umpires around the world can say, "I am baseball."

So as you can see, Dr. Schiller and the IBAF have not only America's baseball resting on their shoulders, but baseball around the world. And that is how a man becomes one of my baseball heroes.

Todd Civin is a free lance writer for the Bleacher Report and is a supporter of A Glove of Their Own. He encourages you to visit the site at and to purchase the book using the code of Pitch in For Baseball PIF 129




Joe Niekro: Daddy's Little Girl Knuckles Up for Aneurysm Research

by Todd Civin (Columnist) Written on August 13, 2009

It's funny how life sometimes brings you down a path you didn't plan to walk down. You welcome its existence and take the first step with a slight sense of trepidation.

You assume you know where you are headed but oftentimes have no idea what is in store. You walk slowly and instead of finding what you hoped to find, you find something far more magnificent.

It's what keeps life interesting and makes you realize that things happen for a reason and that you are exactly where God expects you to be. 

I came upon a story about the First Annual Knuckle Ball while doing a piece with former major league catcher Ed Herrmann. I assumed that I was being given an extra little nugget as a reward for doing a story about Herrmann's Charity Golf Tournament.

Herrmann was one of the guests at the gala event created by Natalie Niekro, the daughter of the late, great knuckle ball pitcher Joe Niekro. The younger half of the famed knuckleballing family (Phil, Joe and now Joe's son Lance) died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm on October of 2006.

His daughter Natalie formed The Joe Niekro Foundation as a way of keeping her dad alive and to aid in the research and treatment of aneurysm patients and families. The Foundation's goal is to raise awareness about aneurysm factors, causes, treatments, and research.

I decided to call Natalie and ask her about the success of the event and perhaps direct someone to the Foundation's site. After all, even though she wasn't a baseball great, she is the daughter of one, and that's almost just as good.

I dialed the phone nervously, unsure if it was because I was about to talk to the daughter of one of baseball's great pitchers or because I sensed that my inner self was about to change.

She answered; I introduced myself and told her the nature of my call.

In an instant, the tone of Natalie Niekro's voice changed from VP of Marketing and Advertising Professional to the voice of a little girl, who hurt very badly inside after losing her hero, her mentor, her friend. 

She opened up immediately and shared stories about her father and what he meant to her through out her life. Tears streamed down Natalie's face and her voice cracked frequently, as she spoke of her hero. A hero that she loved and idolized from the moment she was old enough to know how great a daddy is.

She spoke of Joe as a role model and as a caring and empathetic human being, who was so much more than just the face on the baseball card that we all collected as kids and how awestruck she was by the support and commitment that those in attendance showed her father and her family.

Natalie's blog reads as follows, written four days after the July 31 event: "I was absolutely amazed and humbled at the level of support and dedication of everyone that had come to pay tribute to the man that I have the privilege of calling my father."

"There is no other place that I would have rather been than in that stadium honoring the man that will forever be a hero in my eyes. And as I recalculate all the events that took place these past few days, I am so thankful and so honored for everyone’s support."

We talked for about an hour or more not about the Knuckle Ball, but about what she and the Foundation are trying to do to prevent other little girls from losing their dads or moms.  

Perhaps more than anything we talked about the little girl who still misses her dad very badly even though over three years have past since he went away.

I suddenly realized that the story I needed to tell was not one about the Baseball's Who's Who that attended the event or even about the Foundation's goals and commitment to aiding in the research and treatment of aneurysm patients and families.

It's about the little girl with the baseball dad and how she thinks about him every day.

So, before I shut off the computer and go hug my own mom and dad, I leave you with the words of Natalie Niekro and ask you to visit the Joe Niekro Foundation for her and her for dad.



Written by: Natalie Niekro at age 7

Spring Training is here and baseball is starting,
which means that my Dad and I will be parting.
His baseball career is his dream-come-true
But the time we’re apart makes me so sad and blue.

Though Winter’s a memory and flowers now bloom,
I find that my heart is filled with some gloom.
While others are planning their parties and things
I only can think of what Spring to me brings.

Our time together was great but now it must end
For the Astros have called on my very best friend.
Dad’s a wonderful pitcher...three strikes and you’re out
I sit by the television and cheer and shout.

He loves his job and I’m thankful for that
Though my heart skips a beat with every crack of the bat.
So once again I’ll adjust to being without him,
Although every second I’ll be thinking about him.


Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for The Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He is also a supporter of, "A Glove of Their Own" the award winning children's story that teaches paying it forward through baseball. The Joe Niekro Foundation is the most recent non-profit organization to join the A Glove of Their Own team and will earn $3.00 from each sale of the book purchased using the donor code JNF636 Joe Niekro Foundation.


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Children's book hits home run with baseball greats

By Michelle Gladden • FREEHOLD BUREAU • June 7, 2009

Since its October release, baseball greats and sports companies have lined up to support "A Glove of Their Own," an award-winning children's book and its mission of giving back. Today, baseball's famed left-handed pitcher Tommy John, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, among other teams, will join Bob Salomon and the book's authors in Somerset County's Millstone for their Pay It Forward Day.

While the 26-year major league veteran will be on hand to sign copies of the book only from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., the larger event will continue through until 4 p.m. at Chicklet Books, 1393 Millstone River Road.

A community outreach packed with family-centered entertainment and rides, the event will serve as a fundraiser for the Beez Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to support pediatric brain-cancer research projects.

"My thing is, let's help each other," said Salomon, a Howell resident who spearheads the book's mission. "The book's message is all about giving and paying it forward. This is what the world needs. This is what our kids today and families need to do."

Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Grilli said after speaking with Salomon that he was happy to lend his support.

"I support it 110 percent," Grilli said during a pre-season interview. "It's phenomenal what caring people can do."

Grilli said the mission of the book is to "do good for children who need help and to spread the love of the game. I think that the book and what's behind it is going to be a success."

He was right.

Among those supporting the mission are Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation, the Boomer Esiason Foundation, the Ken Griffey Sr. Foundation and the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.

Last month "A Glove of Their Own," published by Franklin Mason Press, captured the Independent Book Publisher's Association's Ben Franklin Award.

Written by Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling and Lisa Funari-Willever, with illustrations by Lauren Lambiase, it is a story of children's love of the game and how it sparks an act of kindness from a former coach who happens to pass their makeshift field and worn equipment.

"The book really hits home," said former Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Jack Perconte. "It takes you back to the days of how we used to play the game. I think it's straightforward and shows people how it used to be."

The innocence behind the love of the sport and not the glitz and glamour often surrounding many of today's professional athletes is what drives Salomon's mission.

"This book brings back what baseball is all about," he said. "It's a child's game, and some people forget that. They get wrapped up with the fame, the steroids, the salaries, the stadiums. We need to bring baseball back to its core."

A father of two who coaches Little League and works for New Jersey state government, Salomon and wife Martha created Danjulie Associates to form a network with an aim to give back, mainly to children in need.

"Our goal is to raise awareness, raise funds, and motivate everyone to play it forward," he said. "Whether you donate your old equipment, organize a community collection or donate funds to the organizations involved, you will have made a huge difference to a child."

Salomon, who has worked over a year to grow the Glove of Their Own network, said he was humbled by the generosity of not only the professional players but some of the nation's largest sports companies.

Thus far, former players Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros, Sean Casey of the Cleveland Indians, Brent Mayne of the New York Mets and others have added their words of support to the book, while Rawlings, Louisville Slugger, I-Fungo, Upper Deck and Modell's also have signed on.

USA Cares, Cheerful Givers, the National Alliance for Youth Sports, the Lakewood Blue Claws, The Trenton Thunder Grand Slam Foundation, World Baseball Outreach, and Roberto's Kids — a charity inspired by Roberto Clemente, all complete the network's roster.

Behind the sale of each book is a charitable donation. Three charities, Pitch In for Baseball, Good Sports and Sports Gift, automatically receive a donation each time a copy is sold, while online book purchasers can dedicate a donation of more than $3 per book to specific schools or charities such as those listed above via a drop-down menu.







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PEQUANNOCK - Native author seeks baseball equipment

(by Stephen Janoski - Staff Writer - November 12, 2008)

PEQUANNOCK - Township resident and former Suburban Trends carrier Kerri Conkling will be appearing at the North Boulevard School on Nov. 18 with co-author Debbie Moldovan to lend support for their new book, called “A Glove of Their Own.”

The two authors will be hosting assemblies throughout the day that they hope will “encourage children to follow their dreams.” On top of this, they will be supporting an equipment drive, taking place all week at the school, with bins outside accepting new and gently used baseball and softball equipment.

Conkling, along with co-authors Debbie Moldovan and Lisa Funari-Willever, wrote the book, which was released in October. The book is a fictional story about a group of underprivileged kids who play baseball even though they don’t have any equipment.

The equipment drive, they said, is in the spirit of giving back that the book promotes.

After the authors’ appearance at the school, they will collect the equipment and bring it to “Pitch in for Baseball," a Philadelphia-based organization that will distribute the equipment throughout the world to those in need.

The book
“It’s about kids that play for love of the game,” Conkling said, “and in the end discover a generous bystander (who was a baseball coach) that ends up sharing used equipment with them. They learn the importance of giving back, and decide that when they get older, they’re going to do the same.”

Conkling said that the story was born out of a birthday party for Moldovan’s son a few years back.

“Her young son said that what he wanted for his birthday was a party where everyone came with old baseball equipment and played, and then, at the end, donated it. It was super sweet, and she was inspired,” Conkling said.

Conkling said that Moldovan wrote a poem about the incident, but forgot about it until she met Conkling through helping out with school events for their kids in the town of Basking Ridge, where they both now reside.

“Over time, we both discovered that we had this love of writing. One day, we shared what we had with each other, and that’s when we took that piece, ripped it apart, and put it back together again. And then we went to get it published,” Conkling said.

Conkling said that it was her childhood dream to get published, and being able to do that as well as benefit a charity made it even better.

“I’m an at-home mom, so kids are the best part of my life. And this idea that we can actually get sports equipment by selling this book, and give it to kids around the world who really need it, is great,” said Conkling, who came up through the Pequannock school system.

Proceeds from the sales of the books will be donated to organizations that make sure children across the nation have “a glove of their own.”

For each book sold, $3 will be given to the North Boulevard School library, and 30 cents per book will be given to “Pitch in for Baseball.”

Many large companies have lent their support to the project, such as Rawlings, Louisville Slugger, and Modell’s Sporting Goods. Several professional baseball players have also come out in support, such as Sean Casey, Robb Quinlan, and future-Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.

“We have a family friend name Bob Salomon who has been driving where this book is headed in terms of nonprofits, sponsors and athletes endorsing it. Even though we wrote the story, he’s had the vision of giving back to charity,” said Conkling.

“A portion of every book goes to three different charities right now: Good Sports, Pitch in for Baseball, and Sports Gift,” she said.

Conkling also said that the friendship with the Quigley family, which belongs to North Boulevard’s HSA, helped set the event up.

“We’re going to be doing a whole bunch of things. The equipment drive will happen simultaneously, and there will be a writing contest where teachers are asking their students to write about an act of kindness that they’ve witnessed. When we come to read, they’ll name the winners,” Conkling said.

The winners will eat lunch with the authors, and the authors will then read the winners' entries during the assemblies where they speak to the students.

Moldovan will then give a slide show on the process of how the book came to be.

Conkling said that the intent is to try and “inspire and motivate them to share their own ideas.”

“We want to tell them to always follow their dreams. It’s important to remind kids that they can make a difference every day, because they can,” said Conkling.

The equipment drive
Township police officer Lt. Dan Dooley, whose children attend North Boulevard, is helping coordinate the equipment drive.

“Effective, on Monday, the bins are out there, and we don’t want to isolate this to just residents whose children attend North Boulevard,” Dooley said.

The equipment drive will be taking place until Nov. 18, with the bins at the school. Items to be taken are things like fielding gloves, youth aluminum bats (especially under 21 ounces), catchers’ mitts and gear, batting helmets, new baseballs and softballs, soft cover balls for tee ball, rubber baseball cleats, youth uniforms, umpire protective gear, equipment bags, sets of baseballs, batting tees and pitching machines.

Conkling said that after their presentation to the students, she and Moldovan will bring the donated items to Philadelphia and present them to Pitch in for Baseball.

For more information on the book, the charities, or how to donate, go to


  News Release from Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory September 24, 2008.


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Howell coach a force behind kid's book

By Michelle Gladden • STAFF WRITER • September 4, 2008

HOWELL — The galleys are in — hot off the presses — and for Howell resident and Little League coach Bob Salomon, it is the literary birth of a dream come true.

A state employee, Salomon set out nine months ago to collaborate on a children's book written by Debbie Moldovan and Keri Conkling, both of Basking Ridge, and Lisa Funari-Willever, publisher at Franklin Mason Press.

The book, illustrated by Lauren Lambiase, is titled "A Glove of Their Own" and tells an uplifting story of the love of baseball and the passion that drives children to play the game despite a lack of equipment.

Using an oak tree as home plate and sticks for bases, the kids play, despite their old sneakers. It is a gift from a stranger that reminds the reader to share what you have with those in need.

It is within that message that Salomon's mission was born, a dream to provide each child with a glove of their own.

Soon he found himself calling sports figures, nonprofit organizations and publishing companies from across the nation to set up a network that would help to give back.

"It's been difficult but exciting at the same time," said Salomon, 40. "What's happened is absolutely amazing."

What's happened is the pledge of partial proceeds to help ensure that all children have the sporting equipment the need, the promise of time by baseball stars to help promote that cause, and the commitment of nonprofits to execute the vision.

"It's a dream come true for someone like me," said Salomon, who worked with the author on marketing and came up with the idea of using sales to fund the charity mission.

"We took this from a little thought that come over me nine months ago and it's there, plus more," he added.

To date, the roster of stars and nonprofits continues to grow; it includes retired Houston Astros legend Craig Biggio, Oakland A's infielder Jack Hannahan, Los Angeles Angels baseman Robb Quinlan and Boston Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey.

Sports organizations such as Rawlings, Louisville Slugger and Modell's have joined in. Proceeds will go to global and local charities, including Kids In Distressed Situations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey, the Sunshine Foundation, Cheerful Givers, Pitch In For Baseball, Good Sports, Sports Gift, the Lakewood BlueClaws and USA Cares.

"The book has been accepted into (the) Louisville Slugger Museum," Salomon said. "That's huge. We'll be featured at the museum and will be doing signings down there."

But the work behind that vision has taken an average of 40 hours a week aside from his full-time job, says the father of two. What began with cold calls and relentless pleas has turned into a network of support that will work to provide children with the necessary equipment they need.

Salomon says he has begun work with school systems across the county and the local Howell South Little League. He hopes to be joined soon by PTA organizations and other Little Leagues as well as any child-based organization.

The sale of each book generates $3.30 in charitable giving, Salomon said. Three charities receive 10 cents each. Purchasers can then designate the remaining $3 of the donation by using codes available on the Web site where the book is ordered.

"As we approach production on this title, the prospects for this book are quite positive," Funari-Willever said in a written statement.

Salomon said he plans to host various fundraising events that will feature the professional athletes in order to further promote the mission.

"Faith is a big part of the focus," Salomon said. "It's about aligning yourself with good people."

Michelle Gladden: (732) 308-7753 or

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  Howell coach Turns Passion into Children's Books
  By Keith Hagarty  
--Photo By Kieth Hagarty Combining his love of baseball with his charitable, compassionate spirit, Howell South Little League coach Bob Salomon can't contain his boundless enthusiasm for the launch of his first children's book, "A Glove Of Their Own."
  "In our town there's a park, with an oak tree so tall / We meet there each day, so we can play ball / This spot is home plate for our everyday game / Sticks are the bases; they work just the same."  


Those four simple lines begin the heartfelt tale of sportsmanship and compassion found in the new children's book "A Glove of Their Own."

Harnessing a lifelong love and passion for baseball, Howell South Little League coach Bob Salomon, 40, is proud to be one of the driving forces behind the book.

Married with two children, Daniel, 9, and Julia, 5, Salomon received the first galleys of the book two months ago. After being completely immersed in the creation of the project since last October, Salomon said it was a surreal moment for both him and his family.

"When that first came to the door, my wife teared up," he said. "It was amazing when after a year of work; we finally saw that finished product."

In fact, his son, a pitcher in Howell South Little League, gave his own two-cents for what he wanted to see on the cover of the book. A photograph of him even served as the model for one of the players.

"He said you want to see kids (on the cover) pitching, hitting and actually playing ball," Salomon said of his son's input. "It's just great. He loved it, and got so excited seeing the cover, saying, 'that's me pitching!'"

Copies of the book have already received rousing accolades from several major league baseball players, including New York Mets' star Jose Reyes, legendary Houston Astros' second baseman Craig Biggio and current players Sean Casey of the Boston Red Sox, and Robb Quinlan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"'A Glove of their Own' is a great story about baseball and life, and how many gifts can come as surprises," said Biggio. "People are kind, and love our number one pastime—baseball."

Receiving such praise for the book has been overwhelming for Salomon, who said the character of the professional players involved has been even more impressive, embodying what good role models should be for the kids.

"They're all good guys," he said. "They're all clean-cut, do-the-right-thing kind of guys."

Like the producer of a movie, Salomon developed and collaborated on the book with newcomer children's authors Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling and Lisa Funari-Willever, a publisher at Franklin Mason Press. Lauren Lambiase provided the illustrations.

"It's driven by faith, and the most important part is to line yourself up with aces," Salomon said of his partnership. "There's no greed involved, and they're in there for the right reasons. That's my team—my publisher, my two authors, my Web designer— my whole team is aces."

Working as a state employee, Salomon said he had never even conceived of the possibility that he someday would be contributing to children's literature, let alone helping to organize and launch such an undertaking.

"When I read the (first draft) of the book, I said what it's missing is Keri's heartfelt way she writes," he said. "I thought if (the authors) could combine and listen to what I orchestrate, then I thought we could have a winner."

Being a novice to the book publishing industry, Salomon said he never knew getting his story into print would prove to be such a daunting task.

"It's a million-in-one shot to get a book published, and I didn't know that," he said.

Getting in contact with Funari-Willever, the publisher of the book, proved to be a turning point for the project, according to Salomon.

"She gave me a little insight into book publishing, and was very kind," he said. "I told her no matter what I need to do, I need her involved, and I guess she liked my hype and excitement and got involved. She revamped the story, and got me the three authors. So now I have a professional, two newcomers, and there's the book."

Ten cents from the sale of each book will automatically be donated to three partner charities for the book—Good Sports, Pitch In For Baseball and Sports Gift—in an effort to make sure children across the nation have a glove of their own.

Other charities benefiting from book sales include: Kids In Distressed Situations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey, the Sunshine Foundation, Cheerful Givers, Pitch In For Baseball, the Lakewood BlueClaws and USA Cares.

Those purchasing the book via the official Web site,, can designate the remaining $3 of their donation by using codes available on the site.

"At check out, the buyer has an option in a drop down menu to enter their favorite charity, and $3 will go to that charity from the sale," said Salomon.

In addition, when any of the network of groups sell a book through their own fundraising efforts, an additional $3 per book sold will be given back to any school or non-profit organization that joins up, including the Howell South Little League, who also has a code on the Web site.

The Little League and their president, Bill O'Toole, were big supporters of the book from day one, said Salomon.

"He's a really good guy and gets what it's all about," Salomon said of O'Toole. "He was the first one to see the vision."

Salomon is eager to teach the next generation the importance of giving back by becoming aware of those around us who would otherwise go without.

"This book is the vehicle that will drive us to deliver new and used sporting goods equipment or funds to children in need," he said.

Once the book is up and running, Salomon also plans on traveling to the Dominican Republic to hand out free gloves and baseball equipment to children in the impoverished nation.

"A lot of the current (major league) players are from down there, and we want to help get those kids equipment where they might not ever have any," he said. "I can't wait to expose my family to that. I think that life lesson alone is going to be amazing."

Some of the notable sporting goods companies who have already joined the book's charitable cause include Rawlings, Louisville Slugger and Modell's, and even more in the works.

In addition, the book has already been accepted into the Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame, with Salomon and the authors scheduled to do a signing at the ceremonial event.

With over 500 phone calls to companies each week, looking to further bolster the growing support network for the book's cause, Salomon said after countless rejections, his persistence and positive attitude is finally paying off.

"If it's about the children and helping them out, then I'm not stopping," he said, never daunted by the overwhelming task. "I knew that the more I got denied, the more I said to myself, 'oh man, I've got to get this.'"

With everyone close to him accustomed to now seeing a telephone all but glued to his ear 24-7, Salomon said he never had any doubts about the eventual success of the entire project.

"I'm putting all these companies together, and it just keeps on going and going and going," he said. "That's what the whole book is all about: helping one another … I think we're going to have a grand slam here."


Press Release from USA Cares. Click here to view full PDF.


Taken from This Week Live's web site: (click below to see original)

Baseball book lets readers give back
Friday, 29 August 2008

Proceeds from new children’s book ‘A Glove of Their Own’ to benefit Eagan-based nonprofit Cheerful Givers

by Andrew Miller
Thisweek Newspapers

A new children’s book about sharing what you have with those in need is paying real-life dividends for the Eagan-based nonprofit Cheerful Givers.

“A Glove of Their Own,” set for release in October and now available for preorder, follows an underprivileged group of boys whose lack of equipment doesn’t hamper their love of baseball.

When readers purchase the book through the publisher’s Web site ( ), a pull-down menu allows them to select from a list of charity groups, among them Cheerful Givers, that will receive a portion of the purchase price.

‘A Glove of Their Own’ — The children’s picture book “A Glove of Their Own” will be released in October, but reserve copies can be ordered now at . By choosing Charity code “CHG 132” when you make your purchase, the Eagan-based nonprofit group Cheerful Givers will receive a portion of the sale, which it will use to provide toy-filled birthday gift bags for less-fortunate children throughout Minnesota. For more information about Cheerful Givers, log on to .

Those proceeds will help Cheerful Givers fulfill its mission: providing birthday gift bags to disadvantaged children through shelters and food shelves.

The nonprofit group was founded in 1994 by Robin Maynard, who got the idea for the birthday gift bags after visiting a friend working at a St. Paul food bank. Maynard was dismayed to see that the food bank, which carried mostly canned vegetables and boxes of cereal, didn’t have birthday cakes or even the ingredients for birthday cakes.

Maynard and her husband began filling bags with things like crayons, coloring books and toys and delivering them to food shelves. Looking to reach more children than she could personally fund, Maynard started Cheerful Givers.

The group is aided by more than 1,000 volunteers, who buy the items for the birthday gift bags, fill the bags and deliver them to food banks and homeless shelters.

Since its inception, Cheerful Givers has distributed bags to more than 250,000 children in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Last year, the group distributed 41,000 birthday bags.

Maynard handed over the day-to-day operations of the organization in 2003 to Karen Kitchel, who now runs Cheerful Givers from her home in Eagan.

Kitchel said the proceeds from “A Glove of Their Own” will go directly toward purchasing the toys and other items that go in the birthday gift bags.

The goal of Cheerful Givers is not just to make sure disadvantaged children receive a gift on their birthdays, but to allow their parents to give them that gift, Kitchel said.

“We’re the only organization in the nation which is doing what we’re doing,” she said. “It’s not about us; it’s about allowing parents to give the gifts. We’re giving the self-esteem and the dignity to the parents.”

For more information about Cheerful Givers, or to make a direct donation, log on to

Andrew Miller is at

Press Release from Pitchin for Baseball. Click here to view full PDF.


Discussed at Athlebrities


Ya’ all know I don’t cover many baseball related events, but there is a little book coming out that I gotta give props to. The book, ‘A Glove of Their Own’ has already got some endorsement love from several players: Craig Biggio, Sean Casey and Jack Hannahan have all stepped up to support the children’s book aimed at teaching kids the value of sharing what you have with those in need. Charity partners include Good Sports, Sports Gift, Pitch In For Baseball, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cheerful Givers, and the Sunshine Foundation. From the back cover: “Few things in life are ever as good as the smell of your own glove, the crack of the wood. Or being with friends at that one special spot and sharing what you have… with those who have not.” The picture book personifies the “paying it forward” mentality via a group of underprivileged boys’ childhood experience, and how their love of the game is not defined by the equipment they don’t have but rather the passion and dreams that they do have. The book was inspired by a birthday party held for one of the writers’ kids- in place of gifts, guests were asked to donate baseball equipment for children who normally do without. A Glove of Their Own comes out in October, and those wishing to get their hands on a copy need to reserve now! Go to the website to reserve your copy.


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Look to the Stars

Baseball Stars Offer A Glove Of Their Own

August 7, 2008 by Myrlia Purcell

Baseball stars across the country are stepping up to support a new children’s book, A Glove of Their Own. The book aims to teach children the value of sharing what you have with those in need.

Craig Biggio, Sean Casey, Jack Hannahan and Robb Quinlan are some of the Major League Players to give the book their approval, and charity partners include Good Sports, Sports Gift, Pitch In For Baseball, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cheerful Givers, and the Sunshine Kids Foundation.

From the back cover: “Few things in life are ever as good as the smell of your own glove, the crack of the wood. Or being friends at that one special spot and sharing what you have… with those who have not.”

Bob Salomon, the head of the grass-roots movement promoting this book, told us, “As a little league coach and proud father of two, I am fortunate enough to be passionate about the “pay it forward” or “give it back” mindset that has slowly been catching on throughout corporate America. Moreover, A Glove of Their Own is a children’s picture book that personifies this “paying it forward” mentality. It utilizes baseball, and an underprivileged group of boys’ childhood experience. Their love of the game is not defined by the equipment they don’t have but rather the passion and dreams that they do have.”

The writers themselves, Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling and Lisa Funari-Willever are no strangers to the giving back mentality, and have a track record of volunteerism which they have shared with their own children. The book was inspired by a birthday party held for one of Moldovan’s children. In place of gifts, guests were asked to donate baseball equipment for children who normally do without.

Naturally, A Glove of Their Own caught the attention of big-hearted baseball players. Robb Quinlan is a supporter of the Angels Baseball Foundation, Jack Hannahan has played in the A’s annual Community Fund Golf Classic, Sean Casey helps fight hunger with the charity Labels Are For Jars, and Craig Biggio has been the lead spokesperson for the Sunshine Kids Foundation for more than 10 years.

A Glove of Their Own comes out in October, and those wishing to get their hands on a copy need to reserve now! Go to the Franklin Mason Press website to reserve your copy. Enter the code LTS 127, and we will donate a portion of the sales to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


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Moms make pitch for giving

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Inspired by a children’s baseball game in Basking Ridge, “A Glove of Their Own’’ was written by Basking Ridge mothers Debbie Moldovan and Keri Conkling along with Mansfield resident Lisa Funair-Willever.

Proceeds from sales of new baseball book to benefit charities

By W. JACOB PERRY, Staff Writer
Published: Nov 28th, 2:50 AM
BERNARDS TWP. – An idea that began with a 9-year-old boy’s birthday party has blossomed into a children’s baseball book that’s raising money for needy kids.

Two Basking Ridge mothers, Debbie Moldovan and Keri Conkling, are among three authors of the new hardcover book, “A Glove of Their Own,” which has been gaining notice since its release on Oct. 31.

The book includes 24 pages of poetry and colorful illustrations on the tale of a rag-tag group of children whose love of baseball grows when a kindly older man – their one devoted spectator – surprises them with a gift of old mitts, shirts, hats and cleats.

In keeping with that theme, a portion of the book’s proceeds is going toward organizations that provide sports equipment to children who would otherwise go without.

The effort has won plaudits from several Major League baseball players and is even getting a boost from the national media.

“It’s all about giving back and doing the right thing,” said Moldovan, a mother of three who lives on Hickory Drive. “It became something really special.”

Moldovan said the idea began to take hold three years ago when her son, Tyler, and his best friend, Danny Gibernia also of Basking Ridge, proposed to celebrate Tyler’s ninth birthday by getting all their friends together for a game of wiffleball.

As the plans grew more elaborate, her husband, Rob Moldovan, proposed that instead of bringing gifts the boys bring along used baseball equipment they had outgrown that could be donated to the needy.

The boys contributed some 100 items of equipment that was donated to Pitch In For Baseball, a Fort Washington, Pa., charitable organization.

Meanwhile, the boys went on to play at Gibernia’s home where the game was embellished with a fence and homemade scoreboard. For good measure, hot dogs and peanuts were provided.

“They had such a good time,” Debbie Moldovan said. “I was really proud of them but I felt sad for the kids who want to play baseball but don’t have the equipment to play to their full potential, who can’t play the way my children and the other children in town play.”

An avid writer, she was inspired to write a poem about needy kids who love baseball, and the virtues of generosity.

In October of last year, Moldovan shared her poem with Conkling, a fellow school parent who also has a love of writing.

“It really moved me,” said Conkling, a mother of two who lives on Woods End. “Debbie entrusted me to put in additions, and I put my spin on it.”

Pitch To Publishers

Conkling then brought the poem to the attention of a friend, Bob Saloman of Howell Township in Monmouth County, a Little League baseball coach who was involved with charitable foundations.

He was impressed enough that he began pitching the poem as a book idea to several publishers.

Saloman ultimately contacted Lisa Funari-Willever, founder of Franklin Mason Press, a nine-year-old children’s book publisher based in Trenton. She too, liked the poem, and agreed to collaborate with Moldovan and Conkling on revisions.

“She has a wonderful way with words,” said Moldovan. “We ended up with a great story.”

Meanwhile, Soloman worked to gather sponsors, including Rawlings, Louisville Slugger and Modell’s Sporting Goods. He also obtained endorsements of the book from Major League baseball players Craig Biggio, Sean Casey, Jack Hannahan and Robb Quinlan.

“A Glove of Their Own” was published last month, with Moldovan, Conkling and Funari-Willever credited as the authors. Lauren Lambiase, a recent graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, provided illustrations. Salomon’s work was also credited.

“It was so exciting,” Moldovan said. “It was a dream come true.”

Said Conkling, “It was definitely surreal.”

Mission Expands

But in some ways, the book’s publication was only the beginning of the story.

Three charitable groups that provide sports equipment to underprivileged kids - Good Sports, Pitch In For Baseball and Sports Gift - were chosen to receive 10 cents from the sale of each book.

Additional organizations that sell books through their membership or fund-raisers can also obtain a donation of $3 per book.

That has drawn the involvement of other groups, including the Kevin J. Hannaford, Sr., Foundation of Basking Ridge and the Sharing Village cancer survivor group based in Peapack-Gladstone.

USA Cares, which provides support to military families, and the Boomer Easion Foundation have also gotten involved.

The book, which sells for $15.95, is available online at

Moldovan said she hopes that “as word spreads, it will end up in all the local stores.”

“I give Tyler and Danny so much credit,” she said. “It was really an act of kindness and it snowballed and changed so many lives. Something small can be the first link in a chain of great things that can happen.”

Conkling agreed.

“It’s a great example of how inspiration from a child can lead to a very great thing,” she said “It was like the stars aligning. Everything fell into place. It all fell and came to us, rather than us seeking anything.”

“The behind the story,” Moldovan said, “is children have the power to make a difference. This was all because of two 9-year-olds. We all have the power to make a difference, even if you’re a little kid.”



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