As sponsors of Lincolnton Optimist teams, Bobby and Carolyn Beam go the extra mile for their players.
Theyâ€™ve taken children to Hickory Crawdads baseball games and had them picked up in limousines after their last game.
No matter what, they make sure the players have a good time playing and a party at the end of the season.
â€œWhen the kids come over and hug your neck and tell you how much they appreciate you â€“ thatâ€™s amazing to me,â€ Bobby said.
The couple first started sponsoring teams in 1999, years before their two grandchildren were even born.
Bobby made the decision to sponsor them when talking to a friend whose grandchild was an Optimist player.
â€œI said â€˜Why donâ€™t you sponsor that?â€™ And he said â€˜Why donâ€™t you?â€™â€ Bobby said.
And so he did. The couple sponsors five to six teams a year. Now their two grandchildren, Rylie, 5, and Jaycie, 8, both play on Optimist teams, which the couple sponsor.
â€œA lot of people donâ€™t realize an individual can sponsor,â€ Beam said.
Being an individual sponsor requires $175 for the first team and then drops to $125 for teams after that.
The Optimist Club is currently in need of additional sponsors.
â€œIâ€™d be ashamed if I was a business in Lincolnton, and I didnâ€™t sponsor the kids,â€ Bobby said.
Sponsorship money goes towards a variety of needs including equipment, park repair and paying the power bill.
Sponsors also get the perk of picking coaches for the team. The Beams make sure to go with fair-minded folks who let all the children play equally.
â€œThe coaches that weâ€™ve sponsored, they like to win, but they cheer the kids on,â€ Carolyn said. â€œIf they win â€“ fine. If they lose â€“ fine.â€
While itâ€™s always fun to win, the Beams believe the most important part of being on a sports team are the values children can learn.
â€œIt builds morals in kids, and it builds discipline,â€ Bobby said.
It also keeps them off the couch and allows them to spend time â€œexercising on a Saturday morning rather than lying in bed watching cartoons.â€
After eight years of sponsoring children, the Beams have gained a lot of fans.
â€œTheyâ€™ll come running over to talk. â€˜Do you remember this? Do you remember the limousine?â€™â€ Bobby said.
Itâ€™s moments like that that make them realize giving money to the Optimist Park is a sound investment.
â€œWhen youâ€™re investing in kids, youâ€™re not losing anything â€“ itâ€™s the future,â€ Carolyn said. â€œItâ€™s a small price for the reward you get.â€
For more information on how to sponsor call Rusty Beam at (704) 472-9963.
by Sarah Grano