Kickin’ up funds: Kickball tournament supports Waco nonprofit, Hispanic community

Team "Shark Attack" poses at the Kickin’ It with La Puerta kickball tournament in 2023. Photo courtesy of Gabby Garza

By Ashlyn Beck | Staff Writer

The LatinX Association for Science and Health is encouraging students to put on their tennis shoes and head to Fountain Mall on Sunday afternoon for a kickball tournament.

This year, the LatinX Association for Science and Health is raising funds for La Puerta, a local nonprofit that provides education to the Hispanic and Latino population in Waco.

Mission junior and club vice president Allison Garza said club members volunteer at the ESL courses at La Puerta on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“My week isn’t complete if I don’t go there to help out, so we’re very tight-knit with them,” Allison Garza said.

According to the La Puerta website, the nonprofit provides many resources to the Hispanic and Latino community in Waco, including social, legal, medical and mental health services. It exists to empower the community to reach its full potential.

“It’s so important to offer even something as simple as English, because you’re automatically ostracized from the community if you don’t speak the same language or if you don’t look the same,” Allison Garza said.

Fort Worth sophomore and club DEI chair Alanis Robles said the Kickin’ It with La Puerta kickball tournament is a way to honor La Puerta, bringing awareness to the work it does as well as volunteer opportunities.

“[We want to] bring awareness to everyone that La Puerta is an option,” Robles said. “It’s a volunteering option that they have for them to [become] educated, not just in our culture but just be more aware.”

The event, which will take place from 2 to 6 p.m., includes a kickball tournament, food, music and games, according to Victoria senior and club president Gabby Garza.

“This is not just [another] event for us,” Gabby Garza said. “We always are trying to help [La Puerta] in whatever way we can.”

This is the second year the LatinX Association for Science and Health is hosting the event. Club members said the biggest difference at this year’s kickball tournament is the nonprofit they are supporting. Last year, they raised funds for a national organization that worked at the border.

“This year, we wanted to target more of the Waco community itself, and that’s how we came up with La Puerta,” Robles said.

Allison Garza said La Puerta is an important part of the Waco community. She said La Puerta helps individuals realize that education is an option and that they are capable of the work.

“All the people that we tutor are older,” Allison Garza said. “They are not high school students. They aren’t college students. These are people that are as old as my parents, as my grandparents. And they’re putting the work in now because they realize it is an option.”

Robles said Kickin’ it with La Puerta is an opportunity for club members to care for their community. It’s also a way for Baylor students, who have had the opportunity to pursue higher education, to help give the gift of education to others less fortunate.

“As human beings, we’re responsible to think about others and care for others, and this is just another way to do that and bring awareness of what La Puerta is,” Robles said.

Many people ask why the LatinX Association for Science and Health — an organization for students in science and health — supports a nonprofit providing education. According to Gabby Garza, it couldn’t be more relevant. She said she wants to ensure all health care patients feel comfortable talking with their physicians and receiving the care they need.

“We want to empower our patients later on down the line,” Gabby Garza said. “So many people are fearful to go to the hospital because they don’t understand what a physician is saying.”

Teams of six to 10 players can register and pay $5 per person to participate in the tournament. Other than the tournament and concessions, the event is free.