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If you build it: Field of dreams could rise out of child’s memorial

By MEG JONES
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Mary and Mike Kilar are shown at the site of a youth baseball field that will be built in memory of their son, Treyton, at Starin Park in Whitewater. Treyton Kilar, 6, was killed by a suspected drunk driver in September. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Mark Hoffman)

WHITEWATER, Wis. (AP) — Mike and Mary Kilar looked out over the field of grass turning from winter brown to spring green and imagined their son, a true baseball nut, playing ball here.

Lights, concession stand, artificial turf, dugouts, seats, the whole works. Not just any youth baseball park but a field of dreams built from memories and tears for a little boy who loved baseball so much he was buried in his Prince Fielder jersey. The Kilars are raising money to build a baseball diamond in their son’s name and hope to one day see youths just like their boy running along the base paths.

“That’s what’s been so bittersweet,” Mary Kilar said Wednesday morning as she walked across Starin Park, stopping near where home plate will be positioned someday. “Trey would have just loved to step foot on this.”

Treyton Kilar was 6 last September while returning home from his sister’s high school volleyball game, when a drunken driver smashed into his family’s car. It wasn’t just Trey’s parents and three sisters who grieved his senseless loss, but their friends, classmates, co-workers and, it seemed, all of Whitewater.

What started as an idea for a simple memorial plaque at Treyton’s youth baseball field gradually grew to a state-of-the-art ball field. A total of $80,000 has been raised so far with the goal of $150,000. If enough money can be raised, lights will be installed at a cost of $75,000, and bathroom and concession facilities for an additional $225,000 to $250,000.

Last December, the Kilar family submitted their proposed project, Treyton Kilar Field of Dreams, for a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant. When online voting ended in late January, it fell just short. However, the family plans to try again this summer in the hopes of winning a $50,000 grant from Pepsi.

In the meantime, numerous fundraisers have been held. On Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m., Zumba for Trey will be held at Whitewater High School and on May 14, Treyton’s Field of Dreams Family Fun Day starts at 3 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Whitewater. The Kilars estimate 10 to 15 Play for Trey events have been held, many organized by people who don’t know the Kilar family but were touched by their son’s story.

The Whitewater parks and recreation board has approved preliminary plans for the ball field and next month, the plans go before the City Council, said Matt Amundson, parks and recreation director for the city. More than 300 participants play youth baseball and softball in Whitewater.

If, someday, kids playing baseball on Treyton Kilar Field of Dreams want to know about the boy who inspired their diamond, they would learn Trey Kilar planned one day – not hoped, but planned with solemn certainty – to be a pro baseball player. And not just any major-league team, either. Trey Kilar planned to play for the Brewers.

No matter where he went, he brought his glove and ball. Every day he played catch with his dad. When it was raining, they played catch inside the house. He watched Brewers games on TV whenever he could, reciting statistics. His baseball card collection was always in a specific order with Prince Fielder’s cards on top followed by Ryan Braun’s.

He was a serious kid, someone his father could entrust with a nice fishing rod and not worry about it getting lost. Trey’s grave site overlooks the lake where he often fished with his father. The family often visits his grave, a short drive from their home.

When Trey Kilar, his dad and sisters attended the Brewers On Deck event in January 2010, Trey mapped out which players whose autographs he wanted and at the top of the list was Fielder. Mike Kilar got into the autograph line and held his son’s spot for more than two hours while Trey and his sisters checked out other activities.

When it came time for Trey’s turn with Fielder, Mike Kilar frantically tried to get his camera to work but couldn’t. A camera from one of his sisters was produced but by then someone was moving the line along. That’s when Fielder stepped in.

“Trey told me ‘Mom, some guy was trying to move me along and Prince just said “You stay right here little man” and put his arm around him. Trey was like, ‘He called me little man!’ and then he told me, ‘Mom you’re not washing this jersey.’ ”

After Treyton was killed, Brewers officials sent flowers, letters and spoke to Treyton’s parents. Bud Selig sent a handwritten note.

Fielder and his wife sent flowers.

“I didn’t know I made that much of an impact on anyone’s life. For me to be someone that they look up to, it was special for me,” Fielder said in a recent phone interview.

Later, Mary Kilar wrote Fielder a note thanking him for being a positive influence on Treyton, and sent the photo of them together. Fielder keeps the letter and photo pasted to a mirror at home.

“Whenever I’m having a bad day, you look at that and you realize it’s not how you did today or how bad you did at the plate … It puts it in perspective,” said Fielder.

The Brewers have contributed items for fundraisers and promoted the Pepsi Refresh Project grant effort, said Tyler Barnes, Brewers vice president of communications.

Sentencing is scheduled May 9 for Scott Dragotta, 44, of East Troy, who pleaded no contest to 14 counts stemming from the crash that killed Treyton – and the hit-and-run crash he was fleeing at the time he hit Mike Kilar’s car. Dragotta was driving drunk.

Treyton was such a big Brewers fan that he celebrated his sixth birthday with a baseball-themed party complete with a game, a concession stand with hot dogs and candy, a sausage race, national anthem, seventh-inning stretch and play-by-play by Mary Kilar.

One year later, on what would have been his seventh birthday, Oct. 4, Trey’s family could only visit his grave and talk about how much they missed him.

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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