HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — An indoor batting cage is being built in Lower Paxton Township as a memorial to a local man who was killed in a car crash.
For Zach Kijowski, the baseball field was home. From playing in little league to working for the Senators, and eventually getting his dream job with the Washington Nationals, baseball was a constant in his life. His mom Donna Wilson says that began in Lower Paxton Township.
“He started right here in Paxtonia,” Wilson said. You’d always find a bat in his hand.”
Zach and his friends Mackenzie Mulroy and Michael E. Shovlin, all 24, were killed unexpectedly in a car crash in January. Their loved ones were devastated by the loss. Mike Kijowski, Zach’s dad, says it left them in shock.
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“People say it’s horrible and it is horrible but you never know until you go through something like this,” Kijowski said.
“You go through so many emotions, but the biggest emotion is I’m sad for him because he had so much to live for,” Wilson said.
The loss left his parents broken, but now they’re building in his memory. “We’re building Zach’s clubhouse to give back to the community,” Wilson said.
The clubhouse will have two indoor batting cages and a spot to practice pitching.
“You can’t count how much good will come out of it. The building is good, but the lives that it will impact you can’t count, it will be infinite,” Kijowski said.
It’s the perfect tribute to their son who loved baseball.
“It will never bring him back,” Kijowski said. “It doesn’t take away the hurt, but it helps maybe dull it a little bit even for a moment when you see something good come out of it.”
“This would be Zach’s dream,” Wilson said. “I just hope that kids enjoy it as much as he enjoyed baseball.”
“Even though he’s not here when you see something that’s a result of his life then that helps make it feel like he’s here with us,” Kijowski said.
They know the project would be a hit with Zach if he could be here to see it.
“It’s something that he would want us to do and I’m sure if he was standing right here he would be excited,” Kijowski said. “As Donna said he’d be one of the first ones to go in and hit and he’d probably be nagging me to take him in there before it was even done.”
The goal is to have the project done by March. The family is fundraising to help with the costs.
Anyone who wants to contribute can buy a brick, which will be used to build one of the walls of the clubhouse. You can find that fundraiser here.
The company building the clubhouse, Pioneer Pole Buildings, gave them a huge discount to help out.
Kijowski and Wilson say they’re already so grateful for all of the contributions and the outpouring of support they’ve received from the community.