ToquiNotes: Karma, Good People Collide and Challenger League to Benefit from Train Display Raffle

By Jeff Toquinto on December 16, 2017 from ToquiNotes via

Maybe it’s good karma. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s good people.
Whatever you want to chalk it up to, know that what happened recently involving Bridgeport’s Mike and Kim Martin and a city business is going to turn out to be really good for one person and incredibly good for nearly 100 physically and mentally challenged youngsters.
The business in question is Mountain State Pack & Ship, which is situated in the Simpson Square directly behind Sheetz just off Johnson Avenue. The business owner is Mike Baher. And the beneficiaries of the kindness and time of Baher will be the youngsters from counties all over North Central West Virginia that make up the Challenger Division of Bridgeport Little League Baseball.
Before we get to just what Baher is doing and how you can not only help, but potentially walk away with  a one-of-a-kind collector’s item, it’s a good idea to see how this ongoing random act of kindness found its way to the Martins and the league they’ve helped nurture into another work of art.
“I’ve been going to Mike’s store for a while, particularly when my son (Matt) was serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would send him stuff and Mountain State Pack & Ship would take care of everything for me,” said Martin. “What really made it nice was that Mike (Baher) is really supportive of the military.”
Already knowing Baher and his business was reliable, Martin turned to him again for service that involved the Bridgeport Challenger League. Each year, Martin and those involved with the league put together a half hour video to music for the kids to watch at the Bridgeport High School theatre.
“That’s the time the kids see themselves on the big screen and they’re the stars,” said Martin. “We give a copy of those DVDs to the families and I’ve had some of the parents tell me they get watched hundreds and hundreds of times so it’s something we plan on continuing to do.”
To do the DVDs, Martin says he used quality equipment, including a DVD duplicator that was recently needing shipped back for issues it was having. It was there that everything just fell into place.
“Mike asked me what it was that I was sending back and I told him about it and what it was used for,” said Martin. “At that time, he told me what he was going to do.”
Baher, as it turns out, is a train buff and has been since he was a youngster. But, it’s more than just having a fondness of model trains. Baher actually builds them.
And it gets better.
Not only does he build model train displays, but at Christmas for many years Baher has raffled them off with the proceeds not going into his pocket. Rather, the money raised goes toward something else.
“It’s something we do every year with the raffle always benefitting a charity,” said Baher. “We look at charities that benefit children, veterans or animals and when I found out about Mike and Challenger League it just seemed like the perfect charity to help this year.”
So what does the model train display built by Baher’s own hands entail?
“We did this train because Challenger League is for baseball and it was our idea to do a pseudo field of dreams. It’ set in a farming community like the move Field of Dreams,” said Baher.
The baseball field sits on one side of the display. And there are too many other features to mention that are part of it, which features a model train that rolls around the entire exterior of the display.
“Seeing something like this touches your heart because you know he donated his money to do this and I’m certain it wasn’t cheap. More critical is the amount of time he had to invest in doing this,” Martin said. “He runs his own business and that’s time consuming enough and for him this is probably the busiest time of the year. This tells you everything you need to know about him and why you can trust him with your business.”
Baher points out that he doesn’t do it all alone. Like Santa, he has his helpers. His wife Cheryl along with staff helper Britney Moore, Frank Defino and Nathan Cole all chip in and assist to make the final product perfect.
For those that have come into the store and just think the display is part of the holiday decorating scheme or part of the inventory that includes the packing and shipping materials, vintage video transfer to other forms of media, fishing supplies, vintage jewelry, candle and other items, they should know the display is generally up prior to Christmas and will likely be gone by Christmas or shortly thereafter.
The good news is that you can own it. A chance to win the model train display costs just $10. You can purchase tickets at Mountain State Pack & Ship or you can purchase them at Bridgeport Physical Therapy through the end of the work day Dec. 23 as long as the locations are open. Baher said the drawing will be made around 5 p.m.
“I still can’t believe he just offered to do this. People really need to see the detail in this train set because it’s incredible,” said Martin. “Maybe he could tell we needed a little help this year financially with Challenger due to our growth. We went a little bit overboard and may have spent a bit more than we’re used to.
“When you deal with those beautiful children you never question spending any amount of money because they’re worth every penny,” he continued. “What Mike (Baher) is doing will allow us to provide more for this kids and it’s a wonderful present to our players.”
Is that present a result of karma coming back in a good way to Mike and Kim Martin for their continuous work with the Challenger League? While I don’t know if that’s the case for sure, I certainly think so. What I do know is that what’s being done for those children with this raffle is courtesy of some really good people and a small business giving back to the community.
Mike Baher and his staff prove there’s plenty of good people left in this world. Thanks for the reminder at this time of the year that it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.

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