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Bregman, other pros return for benefit camp

For the past five years, the Albuquerque Baseball Academy has played host to a benefit skills camp in Albuquerque. The sixth edition, now known as “Hitting for a Cure,” will feature a World Series champion for the first time.

The “Hitting for a Cure” camp will be held by the ABA on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4101 Paseo del Norte NE (zip 87113). Registration is underway and will be accepted through Sunday. The cost is $100 and is open to kids ages 7-14.

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who worked the camp last year before taking a star turn and winning the World Series this past season, is one of three major league players scheduled to instruct at the camp Sunday.

There will be a memorabilia auction and a slew of professional baseball players will provide instruction. All proceeds will benefit the Justin Solomon and Faith Kuhn Medical Funds as well as the Martin Romero Scholarship Fund and Bregman’s AB4AUDS Foundation, which benefits autistic children.

Solomon, a former Piedra Vista baseball standout, is a cancer and kidney transplant survivor.

Romero, a former Rio Grande baseball player, died from brain cancer in 2014.

Kuhn, the 11-year-old daughter of Valley baseball coach Chad Kuhn, has undergone multiple surgeries for spina bifida and scoliosis.

The ABA also will play host to an all-skills camp in Farmington on Saturday to benefit 6-year-old Grace Morrissey, who has cerebral palsy.

According to ABA co-owner Ryan Brewer, the camps have raised over $130,000 the past five years.

“The coolest thing is helping families out,” Brewer said. “If my family was in that same situation, the baseball community would come together and help out. It’s a tight-knit group.”

Brewer said attendance numbers have increased over time, though weather issues caused a dip last year. He expects a big turnout this year, especially with Albuquerque native Bregman becoming a national darling after the World Series.

“Having a World Series champion and how much publicity he’s been getting this offseason can’t hurt,” Brewer said. “A lot of people knew who he was, but now he’s a worldwide star.”

Joining Bregman will be Blake Swihart of the Boston Red Sox and Mitch Garver of the Minnesota Twins

“It’s nice to come home and give back to a community that gave us so much,” said Swihart, a former Cleveland High School star and first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2011. “We’re showing how much we appreciate the support, and we’re taking care of kids at the same time.”

Former La Cueva High and University of New Mexico standout Austin House, a Colorado Rockies product, will also help out at both camps this weekend.

“It’s kind of grown every year,” said House, who pitched last year for his hometown Isotopes. “It’s evolved. It’s more to help the community out and now it’s a big thing. It’s awesome, it’s fun for myself to see all the kids that come to the camp. It’s more about growing up in Albuquerque and giving back and going down the line.”

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