?I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED AS A BALLPLAYER WHO GAVE ALL HE HAD TO GIVE? ? ROBERTO CLEMENTE
All of my regular blog readers know how much respect I have for Roberto Clemente. He is my favorite all-time baseball player, not only for his baseball talent but also because he understood the importance of community spirit and giving back. He was pioneering as one of the first athletes to use his name and voice to influence good in the world and create awareness through his compassion. He lost his life on a flight to Nicaragua, where he was en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims. His body was never found. His briefcase was.
Roberto Clemente died the year I was born. Except for highlight footage of him, I never got to see him play. But in my view, his values and capacity to demonstrate the importance of helping others overshadow any of his (monumental) baseball achievements. He was a complete package. Yes, a great ballplayer — but more importantly, a great man. He set the standard for what it means to be a ballplayer off the field. His legacy lives on through every humanitarian cause our modern players adopt as their own, and through the prestigious Robert Clemente Award.
This year, MLB is giving fans the opportunity to vote for the overall Clemente Award winner. I thought it would help us in the voting process to do some research about the nominees and what they?ve done to receive their club level honors. Below, please find the club winners who make up the ballot for the overall Clemente Award and a description of the charitable achievements for which they are being recognized. This is going to be my longest post, but I hope you will please oblige me in this case because I can’t think of a more important reason to show what these 30 candidates have done. I have attempted to highlight each candidate’s efforts, and you can simply click the player’s name to read complete detail. It is a testament to the goodwill that happens all around the game.
Jamie Walker, Orioles: He is closely affiliated with the U.S. Army Emergency Relief Fund, which provides no-interest loans and grants to active duty and retired soldiers and National Guard. The U.S. Army Emergency Relief Fund also provides undergraduate-level scholarships to children of soldiers and provides assistance to spouses through assistance programs. Jamie donates $200 to the fund for every game appearance made in 2007. (And he leads American League pitchers with 72 appearances!) Additionally, he hosts wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center at Camden Yards each homestand. He provided tickets to a catered suite and hosts a meet-and-greet with the soldiers during batting practice.
Jim Thome, White Sox: The former Clemente Award winner (2002) is involved with Children?s Home + Aid of Illinois, which reaches nearly 40,000 children and families throughout Illinois each year through a wide range of services like adoption, foster care, education, counseling and child abuse prevention programs. Thome and the organization then announced the start of the ?Bring Me Home? fundraising campaign on May 12. The campaign invites fans to be part of ?Team Thome-Konerko? by donating to the Children?s Home + Aid cause through various sponsorship levels, including a contribution based on the number of runs Thome and Konerko score during the season. Jim and his wife Andrea generously donated $10,000 to kick-off the campaign. Thome also continues to be intimately involved with Children?s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. He and Andrea host the annual ?Joyce Thome Benefit? dinner in honor of Jim?s late mother. He also hosts an annual golf tournament in Peoria benefiting the hospital and makes regular visits to child patients. Throughout his involvement with Children?s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, Jim and Andrea have raised more than $1 million for the hospital.
Curtis Granderson, Tigers: When the Detroit Tigers organization needs a player to speak to youngsters, meet a community group or represent the team, it calls upon Curtis. He is an excellent role model and spokesperson for the game of baseball. The Grand Kids Foundation, now in its first year, motivates children in the educational, artistic and creative aspects of their lives and helps underprivileged children and families through baseball. Granderson visits numerous schools in the Detroit area to speak about the importance of education. This season, Curtis joined in the efforts to help fundraise for the Coalition on Temporary Shelters (C.O.T.S.). C.O.T.S. exists to alleviate homelessness by providing shelter, meals and an array of services which enable people to achieve economic self-sufficiency and decent affordable housing. This season, Curtis donated tickets for two little league baseball teams so that they could watch a game during our Negro Leagues Weekend celebration here at Comerica Park.
Vladimir Guerrero, Angels: The right fielder has been extremely active in the Southern California community since joining the Angels in 2004. Through his Vlad?s Pad program, Guerrero donates 127 tickets to each Angels home game which are distributed to charities in the area, with a focus on children. The Vlad?s Pad program enables more than 10,000 children to attend games at Angel Stadium each season. Guerrero also has been involved with the local charitable group ?Padres Contra El Cancer? — donating game tickets for children and families affected by cancer. For the past two seasons, he has welcomed families involved with the program to Angel Stadium by signing autographs and posing for pictures with the group prior to batting practice. Guerrero has also been very supportive of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Orange County by helping to facilitate a number of wish visits by local children. For his efforts, Vladimir was honored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation for helping to make wishes come true for terminally ill children. In 2005, as part of a league wide effort, Guerrero contributed $50,000 to the American Red Cross to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Jorge Posada, Yankees: On Jan. 21, 2000, Jorge married Laura Posada, an attorney from Puerto Rico. The couple has two children, Jorge Luis (age 7) and Paulina (age 4). Jorge Luis was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis 10 days after birth and has endured numerous surgeries to correct the condition. As a result, in the fall of 2000, the Posada family created The Jorge Posada Foundation to provide financial assistance to families with children affected by this condition and offer them emotional support through its Mentors Program. The organization partners with a number of medical centers, helping underwrite a portion of the costs of initial surgeries and encouraging further research of this medical condition, which to date has left several questions unanswered. The Foundation also strives to create awareness through events and through funding other educational outreach efforts.
Raul Ibanez, Mariners: He has always been considered one of the most consistent and professional players. Raul is widely respected as teammate in the clubhouse and for his accomplishments on the field. However, he is even more respected for his character, leadership, citizenship, and efforts to improve our communities off the field. In 2004, following three years in Kansas City, Raul returned to the Seattle Mariners for his second tour of duty and quickly jumped back in to support the community. In his first year back, Raul stepped up to chair the annual Cystic Fibrosis Mariners Care Golf Tournament. The event, which includes a golf tournament, dinner, and auction, helps the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in their on-going efforts to find a cure for CF, a fatal disease afflicting children and young adults. On June 28, 2007, Raul hosted the charity event for the fourth consecutive year and helped raise more than $185,000 for CF research. Throughout each season, Raul procures auction items and recruits fellow teammates and sponsors to participate and support the CF Foundation. Thanks to Raul?s dedication and commitment over the past four years, the golf tournament has raised over $775,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Michael Young, Rangers: He and his wife Cristina Barbosa-Young have been actively involved with Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer since the 2002 season. Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer is a non-profit organization whose mission is to wipe out kids’ cancer through innovative research, education and treatment, while providing hope to children affected with cancer. The Foundation was founded by Cindy Brinker Simmons in memory of her mother, the late and great tennis champion Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly Brinker. For the past five seasons, Michael and Cristina have hosted the Wipe Out Kids’ Ambassadors to a Texas Rangers home game, providing tickets, food, souvenirs and a private meet and greet as well pre-game field presentation. WOKC partners with the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and selects special children to represent WOKC in different fundraising events over the year and the primary purpose of the program is to allow the children a chance to just be kids and forget about their cancer treatments. Meeting Michael and Cristina as well as attending the Rangers game is one of the highlights of the year. Michael also actively participates in the Major League Players Association Buses for Baseball and Action Team Programs. It brings underprivileged youth to a Rangers game with pre-game meeting with players.
David Ortiz, Red Sox: ?Big Papi? shows support for numerous charities in and around Boston as well as his native Dominican Republic. From the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston to the Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz?s support of worthy organizations and individuals has no boundaries. One of the local organizations to note is Good Sports, an organization that distributes sports equipment, footwear, and apparel to community organizations offering programs to disadvantaged youth helping to lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles. David was honored with the Good Sports ?Good Sport in Sports? award in May, 2007. He donated a backyard whiffle ball game (with him) as an auction experience for their annual fundraiser. In both 2006 and earlier this year, the auction experience alone raised $30,000 for Good Sports. Last September, Ortiz broke the club single-season home run record set by Jimmie Foxx in 1938. David auctioned off home run #50 and #52, and the money raised together with donations from his teammates and the Red Sox Foundation resulted in a $200,000 donation to the aforementioned hospital in Santo Domingo — with proceeds going toward surgery, specifically heart procedures, on children. At the beginning of the 2006 season, David participated in a PSA for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America campaign, and the previous year he donated $50,000 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.
Travis Hafner, Indians: ?Pronk? is involved with Cleveland Indians Charities, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland, the Animal Protective League, and Beech Brook. Travis has designated Beech Brook to be the beneficiary of his nomination. The mission of Beech Brook is to advance the emotional well-being of children, youth and their families by providing effective, innovative behavioral health, permanency and educational services and by serving as a strong voice for children, youth and families. Travis and Amy have donated their time and services to Beech Brook. They are launching a program within the next few weeks in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland that will be called PRONK?S PEEPS. The program is described as an all-star school outreach initiative, as more than 550 kids in 14 schools in Cleveland will be exposed to this program. Pronk?s Peeps will be debuted prior to a game in September.Travis and Amy are involved in the ?Youth of the Year? program, which recognizes three Boys & Girls Club members who display exceptional academic achievement while overcoming difficult life circumstances. These club members will receive a scholarship to off-set college or vocational school expenses.
Mike Sweeney, Royals: Though he has battled injuries much of the 2007 season, Mike?s spirit is as strong as ever. He is extremely generous in donating his time and financial resources to a number of charitable organizations in the Kansas City area and beyond. Mike and his wife, Shara, have been involved in the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program for several years, purchasing Royals tickets for RBI youth and serving as a team sponsor. He partners with the organization to serve as spokesman for the RBI program. He has appeared in public service announcements, appealed for donations and even collecting used equipment from his teammates for the program. During the past season, he also sponsored an RBI team at $2,500. In addition, Mike committed $100,000 to build the ?Sweeney Family Field? as part of the Boys & Girls Clubs capital campaign in Kansas City that was dedicated in 2006. Mike is also an honorary RBI Advisory Board member. The Sweeneys established the Sweeney Family Foundation to work with youth and families to encourage others in their faith through several avenues including youth ministry, baseball camps, crisis pregnancy centers, music ministry, denominational unity and urban outreach missions. As part of their work through the Sweeney Family Foundation, Mike and Shara are deeply involved with the Rachel House pregnancy resource center. The organization provides free pregnancy tests, one-on-one, confidential counseling, access to full-term medical care and material needs assistance. Mike is also firmly committed to the Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC) and serves as the chairman of the Athlete Advisory Board, which serves Catholic athletes in the practice of their faith and shares the Gospel in and through sports. The organization works with athletes at all levels of sport in an effort to promote a Catholic sports culture. Mike also serves as spokesman for the ?Enjoy the Game? program, which emphasizes good sportsmanship and teamwork, and actively supports the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation. He donated $125,000 to the Teammates for Kids Foundation to benefit the tsunami relief effort following the devastation to Southeast Asia in December 2004.
Torii Hunter, Twins: In the Twin Cities, Hunter names the Twins Rookie League and RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) inner city youth baseball programs as his charity of choice. He donates his time as the spokesperson for the leagues, appears in a league public service announcement, and meets with the leagues? more than 6,000 players, teaching baseball skills at clinics and hosting players at Twins games. He also personally selects 40 Rookie League and RBI participants each month during the season to join him for Twins batting practice on the Metrodome field. Hunter speaks with youth about his experiences growing up around gangs in Little Rock, Ark., answers their questions, and encourages them to continue their participation in baseball/softball. Recently, he created the ?Torii Hunter Project? in partnership with the Little League Urban Initiative — designed to stop the disappearance of the sandlot baseball diamond from our neighborhoods and communities and to provide America’s youth in inner cities and poor rural communities, regardless of race or ethnicity, with opportunities to learn this great game. The project’s goals include reaching out to our youth so that they come to see baseball as an exciting sport in which everyone can participate, providing funding for proper baseball training, providing funding and availability for proper facilities, teaching the character building and teamwork aspects of baseball, and providing youth with a viable recreational alternative to other activities that so often lead to problems. Hunter established a community ticket program called ?Hunter?s Homies?, providing Twins tickets to thousands of economically disadvantaged youth from Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Nick Swisher, A’s: In the spring of 2007, Swisher signed on as an Ambassador to The Women?s Cancer Research Fund, an Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) non-profit initiative to help women with cancer. Nick?s beloved grandmother, Betty Lorraine Swisher, lost her battle with cancer and Nick wanted to do something to honor her and to become a positive force to help others while bringing attention to the need for more cancer research to find a cure. Nick teamed with ?Pantene Beautiful Lengths? non-profit campaign to have his hair donated and made into a wig to help a woman dealing with hair loss from cancer treatments. Nick went without a haircut for over 10 months to make sure his hair would be long enough to donate to make a difference. On May 19, 2007, Nick had his father, former MLB player Steve Swisher, cut his hair in a pre-game ceremony in front of 35,000 people at the Oakland Coliseum. Nick?s actions have inspired hundreds around the country to grow and donate their hair to help others with cancer. Last month, Nick introduced his own national nonprofit foundation, ?Swish?s Wishes,? to help all kids in need of vital medical and childhood care, education and recreational activities and other essential programs that will make a difference in a child?s life and help them acquire the necessary care and confidence they need to achieve a bright future. The first Nick Swisher Celebrity Bash raised more than $75,000 and benefited ?Swish?s Wishes? and Children?s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Swisher is an active participant in Strikeouts For Troops, founded by Barry Zito, to honor and support America?s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines working to keep our country safe and free.
Carl Crawford, Devil Rays: Growing up in Houston, Carl still remembers the mind-set of a young man who idolized athletes. With that in mind, he is ever aware of the impact he can have on kids, personally and professionally, and is happy to share his baseball expertise whenever possible. That has prompted Carl?s involvement with in the Rays Youth Field Renovation Program, lending financial support in addition to sharing his baseball skills through clinics with disadvantaged youth. Carl is heavily involved with the current Rays renovation program at West Tampa Little League. Rich in tradition in the greater Tampa Bay area, products of this league include Gary Sheffield and former Major League players Fred McGriff, Tino Martinez, Lou Piniella and Luis Gonzales. At the completion of the renovation in September, Carl will host a youth clinic at the field, trying to promote the ever-decreasing number of young African-Americans playing baseball. Carl has also participated in Community Relations activities with the Rays involving visiting children?s hospitals, and local Boys and Girls Clubs recognitions.
Vernon Wells, Blue Jays: Over the course of his nine-year career in Toronto, Vernon has become a mainstay as the Blue Jays’ center fielder and as a member of the Toronto community. He has made two All-Star Game appearances and won three Gold Glove Awards, but his greatest career accomplishments have been made off the field. After agreeing to a seven-year contract extension to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays this past off-season, Vernon donated $1,000,000 to the Jays Care Foundation. The Jays Care Foundation was established in 1992 and supports programs, groups and activities that enhance the quality of life for children and youth across the Greater Toronto Area. This donation further entrenched him as a community ambassador for the Blue Jays and a leader for youth baseball participants. Rookie League, a partnership between the Jays Care Foundation and Toronto Community Housing, is a program near and dear to Vernon?s heart. He was delighted to recently accept the role of Honorary Commissioner of Rookie League which is an eight week day camp program for kids who live in Toronto Community Housing. Through Vernon?s hard work and dedication the Rookie League program has expanded to over 20 teams with over 500 children participating. Each summer these children learn about healthy lifestyles, drug awareness, and baseball! As Honorary Commissioner, Vernon has made a number of visits to league games and also hosted an end-of-season All Star game and party on field at Rogers Centre for all Rookie League participants. Vernon has proven he is committed to providing children with an experience they will never forget and solidifying himself as a quality person off the field. In addition, throughout the season Vernon has stepped up to the plate countless times, helping out local non-profit agencies, schools and youth groups by making big fans dreams’ come true with personal visits. He has also helped support many of these worthy causes with personal contributions.
Orlando Hudson, Diamondbacks: Before ever playing a game in a D-backs uniform, Orlando Hudson made it know that he wanted to start a program that would connect baseball with local children affected by autism, a lifelong developmental disorder that interferes with a person?s ability to communicate and form social relationships. His compassion for kids with autism began during his own childhood. With two cousins diagnosed with the disorder, love, support and respect for individuals with autism came naturally to him at a young age. Hudson immediately connected with the Phoenix-based Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), which is dedicated to research, education and resources for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families. Hudson demonstrates his passion for children affected by autism through a hands-on and action oriented approach; not simply through financial support. He works with SARRC to provide children with autism an opportunity to attend monthly ?game nights,? where Hudson provides the families with a private luxury suite and hosts a meet-and-greet session with the children before each game. In November of 2006, he served as Honorary Chair of the inaugural Walk Now Arizona fundraiser benefiting SARRC and Cure Autism Now. As Honorary Chair, he reached out to sports radio stations, community partners and fellow teammates to rally support for the event. The additional awareness and media attention that his involvement generated resulted in the most successful inaugural Walk Now of 2007 in the United States. Fundraising totals climbed to more than $370,000 and his studio and phone interviews made a significant impact on walker turnout. Hudson pulled together the largest single walk team, ?O-Dog?s Web Gems,? comprising more than 120 members.
Derrek Lee, Cubs: Derrek?s most remarkable display of character occurred only one year ago. Coming off a tremendous 2005 campaign where he hit 46 home runs, Derrek suffered a setback when he broke his wrist during a baserunning collision the following season. Off the field, Derrek had to confront even more personal issues, when his 3-year-old daughter Jada was diagnosed with Leber?s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a degenerative disease that results in loss of vision. In 2006, Derrek Lee founded the Project 3000 effort to fight LCA. In conjunction with Derrek?s 1st Touch Foundation, Project 3000 aims to eradicate LCA — a disease which affects an estimated 3,000 people in the United States, most of which are simply unaware of the disease. In addition, Lee has sponsored Chicago-area RBI baseball teams throughout his stay with the Cubs. He has also hosted and helped fulfill the wishes of numerous children through wish-granting agencies such as Make-A-Wish. Although he stands tall at a towering 6-foot-5, Derrek?s down-to-earth demeanor and his kind personality put special guests at ease the moment they meet him.
Matt Holliday, Rockies: As an advocate for youth baseball programs, Matt assisted in a baseball clinic sponsored by Fox Sports Net and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Colorado. Here he spent the day teaching disadvantaged youth the necessary skills to play baseball while having fun. In addition, Matt is involved in the Rockies School Program, a pep rally for children in elementary school where he sends kids a message of the importance of staying in school, refusing drugs, getting involved and respect. Last holiday season, Matt put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children when he visited The Children?s Hospital?s/Make a Wish Holiday Wish Store, an event of the Make-A-Wish Foundation that provides gifts to terminally ill children to give them a day away from thinking of their illness. Matt visited with the children, signed autographed pictures and passed out gifts. On off days, Matt has spent many days visiting sick children and individuals at the local Children?s Hospital, Craig Hospital, a hospital for individuals with brain and spine injuries and the National Jewish Hospital?s Kunsburg School, a school for children who suffer from lung and allergy problems.
Craig Biggio, Astros: In the early 1990s, Craig became the national spokesperson for the Sunshine Kids Foundation. The Sunshine Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to children with cancer. Established in 1982, the foundation is committed to providing positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients. The Sunshine Kids provide a variety of programs and events, free of charge, for kids who are receiving cancer treatments in hospitals across North America. These activities are to allow the kids to once again do what kids are supposed to do, have fun and celebrate life. Craig has raised nearly $2.5 million for the Sunshine Kids during his career. The foundation has many programs, including national and regional events, that are provided free of charge to the children?s families, hospitals, and other organizations by personal contributions, corporations and foundations. Craig has gone to great lengths to raise awareness of the Sunshine Kids, as his annual headshot seen everywhere from the media guide to national TV broadcasts features a Sunshine Kids pin attached to his cap. Almost every day during batting practice, Craig takes the opportunity to visit and welcome members of many groups including but not limited to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, hospital and cancer patients, current and former military service personnel, and the Houston Astros Hometown Heroes, a program that honors outstanding community service and overall good deeds in the Houston community.
Jeff Suppan, Brewers: Jeff has committed to contribute $100,000 each year to Brewers Charities, Inc., whose mission is to support activities and programs targeted at youth recreation, scholarship and education throughout Wisconsin. He has earmarked a portion of that contribution for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an organization that helps children and families of U.S. soldiers killed in the line of duty. Suppan is also financially supporting two area baseball programs: the Felix Mantilla Little League and the Beckum-Stapleton Little League, two venerable little league organizations within the Latin community and the African-American communities. Over 700 children and families are served by the two programs. Jeff was the lead player this year for the Brewers S.C.O.R.E. youth education day. S.C.O.R.E. stands for School, Community, Opportunities, Role models and Excellence. He spoke to kids about the importance of school and community; taking advantage of good opportunities; seeking positive role models and striving for excellence in all areas of their lives.
Jamie Moyer, Phillies: The Moyer Foundation was started by this former Clemente AWard winner and his wife in 2000 to improve the quality of life for children in Seattle. In 2007, those efforts now include helping children in the Philadelphia area as well. Jamie created Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for children ages 6-17 that have lost a loved one (parent or sibling). At the start of the 2007 season, there were Camp Erin locations in eight cities. In August of this year, the Moyer?s opened a Camp Erin in Philadelphia and have long-term plans to have one in every Major League city. On Aug. 6, Jamie hosted a Celebrity Waiters charity event at Citizens Bank Park. With the help of 14 of his teammates, who served as waiters at the event, Jamie raised $248,000 for the Camp Erin program in Philadelphia. On several occasions in 2007, Jamie has met with children who have lost a loved on the field prior to Phillies games both at home and on the road. Jamie also served as a Spokesman for the ?Carve Out Hunger? Food Drive held at Citizens Bank Park.Since 2000, the Moyer Foundation has raised more than $13 million.
Albert Pujols, Cardinals: Albert?s main charitable mission is served through the Pujols Family Foundation. Albert and his wife Deidre have a daughter with Down Syndrome. Since this is a subject so close to their hearts, the focus of the Foundation is geared toward the love, care and development of people with Down Syndrome and their families. The Foundation also has a global vision, reaching out to impoverished families and children in his native Dominican Republic. Albert has a strong dedication to the Foundation, now two years old, as is demonstrated by his willingness to spend hundreds of hours in personal service, signing tens of thousands of dollars in memorabilia items for the Foundation?s online store, giving 100 percent of each sale directly to benefit the Foundation. Perhaps the greatest demonstration of Albert?s personal service to the cause is his trip, along with Diedre, to the Dominican to personally see through the mission of Operation Smile, a trip which resulted in dental care valued at over $130,000 provided to children in need of such care. The Pujols Family Foundation has raised more than $1 million to benefit the children of St. Louis and the Dominican.
Russ Ortiz, Giants: He established the Ortiz Family Foundation in the fall of 2005 and it has assisted with The Arc of San Francisco, Volunteers of America Bay Area, and Gilead House. The Arc of San Francisco serves, supports and advocates for individuals with developmental disabilities. They provide a variety of services to over 400 people daily. Volunteers of America Bay Area is an organization founded on spiritual values with programs that assist, treat, and empower people to transform the quality of their lives and expand their opportunities. The goal of Gilead House is to provide a supervised, structured program environment for homeless families during a transitional period of up to 12 months. Russ hosts the aforementioned organizations at Giants games throughout the season. He provides 48 tickets and gift cards for food, autographed Ortiz Family Foundation shirts, and baseball cards for each person. When the groups come out to a Giants game, Russ meets and talks with them after batting practice and takes a group photo with them.
Tim Hudson, Braves: Since joining the Braves prior to the 2005 season, Tim has worked tirelessly to support Children?s Healthcare of Atlanta. During spring training in February 2007, Tim hosted the ?Tim Hudson Birdies & Baseball Celebrity Amateur? golf tournament that raised $88,000. On Aug. 13, Tim joined forces with his Braves teammates to host the John Smoltz/Tim Hudson/Jeff Francoeur Atlanta Braves Celebrity Am Golf Tournament that benefited Children?s Healthcare of Atlanta. During his tenure with the Oakland Athletics from 1999-2004, Tim and his wife Kim developed a strong relationship with the Make-A-Wish® Foundation. When Tim joined the Braves, the Hudsons continued that partnership. In November 2006, Tim and Kim served as honorary co-chairs for the annual Celebration of Wishes black-tie gala. They were actively involved in every phase of planning for the event and helped make it a success as nearly $300,000 was raised. Tim participates in Braves community programs and fundraisers such as the Braves Power Lunch Series, Jerseys Off Our Backs fundraiser and Christmas In July hospital visits to youth.
Aaron Harang, Reds: Aaron volunteers his time for the Reds Community Fund, the official nonprofit 501 c 3 arm of the Reds. RCF is dedicated to improving the lives of youths by leveraging the tradition of the Cincinnati Reds and the game of baseball. The Reds Community Fund hosts unique baseball-themed fundraising events to facilitate three specific outreach programs: the Reds Rookie Success League, Knothole/youth baseball funding, and field renovations. Aaron and his wife Jen have participated in RCF fundraisers such as Baseball 101 Luncheon for Ladies. Additionally, Aaron donates his time at many of the Reds Community Fund fundraising events. Debuting this year was ‘Aaron’s Aces’, a ticket program designed to provide a fun day at the ballpark for families who currently have a parent serving in the War on Terrorism. Aaron is an active participant in the club’s Make-A-Wish program (each Friday home game) which provides opportunities for children to meet their favorite Reds player during batting practice. He also volunteered to be the first Captain of ‘Reds Heads’, the official kids club of the Reds.
Miguel Cabrera, Marlins: The fastest right-handed hitter to reach 500 RBIs in Major League history is heavily involved with the Florida Marlins Community Foundation (FMCF). It is a not-for-profit charitable organization that focuses on promoting educational, athletic, health, social and community service programs with a particular focus on South Florida?s youth. Revenue for the FMCF comes from four sources: player contributions, corporate sponsorships, grants, and events. The money raised is used to support "Cornerstones for Kids" — building a brighter future through education, the arts and baseball. Since its inception, the FMCF has given back over $4 million dollars to the community! Miguel has been associated with the FMCF since his call-up in June 2003. He also donates his time to raise funds through personal appearances and attends fundraising events. A portion of Miguel?s donation goes toward the funding of the Miguel Cabrera Coach Pitch League. The League ensures that kids who begin playing in the Dontrelle Willis T-Ball League are able to make the natural progression to Coach Pitch. Miguel also works closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, spending time with Make-A-Wish kids at the ballpark. He is incredibly attentive to Make-A-Wish kids and makes them feel like they are the most important thing in the world for that moment in time.
Derek Lowe, Dodgers: The Dodgers’ starting pitcher has been a strong force on the mound as well as in the greater Los Angeles community, with a particular emphasis on Mattel Children?s Hospital at UCLA. Last season, Derek and his girlfriend Carolyn Hughes visited the hospital and met a number of children. One teenage girl named Courtney truly made a major impact on both of their lives. Courtney had beaten cancer but the disease resurfaced. She was getting ready to be discharged when Derek and Carolyn both met her. Just 10 days after their meeting, Courtney passed away. Inspired by Courtney, Derek became more involved with the hospital and its mission. Derek?s signature program is D-Lowe?s Heroes. Once a month, 3-4 kids battling cancer (who are being treated at Mattel Children?s Hospital at UCLA) and their families come to Dodger Stadium to watch the Dodgers play but most importantly get to come down on the field and spend time with Derek. The kids get a special T-shirt, a signed ball and the opportunity to play catch with Derek. Once Derek heads back to the clubhouse to prepare for the game, the kids and their families are treated, courtesy of Derek, to a meal in the exclusive Dugout Club and get to enjoy the game from field level seats. In addition to bringing these youngsters out to Dodger Stadium, the D-Lowe?s Heroes program includes visits to the hospital by Lowe during the season. Derek hosted the third annual Dodgers Dream Foundation Bowling Extravaganza at Lucky Strike Hollywood on July 30. The event included many Dodger players, including Nomar Garciaparra, Luis Gonzalez, James Loney and celebrity guests such as James Denton and David Arquette. Dodger fans had the opportunity to purchase spots at the event and bowl with their favorite Dodger players. Proceeds benefited the Dodgers Dream Foundation and Mattel Children?s Hospital at UCLA. One bowling lane was dedicated to the hospital so other youngsters battling cancer could spend a night bowling with Derek and his teammates. Along with Derek?s great work with Mattel Children?s Hospital at UCLA, Derek, who battled skin cancer earlier in his career, has also devoted much of his time educating the public about the risks of the disease and the importance of sun safety.
Paul Lo Duca, Mets: The catcher’s skills on the field are well-documented. His commitment to community service equals if not surpasses his performance behind the plate. Lo Duca, who was born in Brooklyn, NY, has a special interest in literacy and has supported the Summer Reading Clubs of New York City?s public libraries since he joined the Mets. In 2007, he took a leading role by serving as spokesperson for program. Paul appeared at the kick-off press event at the Bronx Library Center and was featured in a public service announcement. Paul joined seven other players for the first annual Teammates in the Community event for the Mets Foundation, an evening cocktail party/auction held at Richards in Greenwich, Conn., after a Mets afternoon game at Shea. Paul served as auctioneer alongside NY Daily News columnist Mike Lupica for the live auction, which raised half of the $500,000 in total proceeds for the evening. The Mets host a Relay for Life fundraising event at Shea for the American Cancer Society. Paul, who lost his mother to cancer, served as spokesperson for the event and taped a public service announcement.
Jack Wilson, Pirates: Jack?s main charity of choice is the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. This past May, Jack hosted his third annual ?Bowling with the Bucs? tournament to raise money for Make-A-Wish. He and his wife Julie donate their personal time to help plan the event, spend their own money to ensure the auction has a wide selection of items including memorabilia from other Pirates players and players across MLB, recruit Jack?s teammates to participate in the event and make a personal monetary contribution. In 2007, this event netted more than $20,000 for Make-A-Wish. Over the three years Jack has hosted this event, Make-A-Wish has received more than $57,000 and almost 20 wishes were fulfilled! Jack contributes to the community in many other ways. He participates in a variety of Pirates community initiatives including the bi-annual ?Gloves for Kids? event and Kids Autograph Days at PNC Park. He is very supportive of the charitable activities of the Pirates Wives Organization and continues to be a role-model for children in the Pittsburgh region.
Jake Peavy, Padres: Jake is extremely active in the community but his preferred charity is Team Focus. He is involved with Team Focus during the season while in San Diego but also during the offseason while in Alabama. Peavy hosted and mentored 30 boys at complimentary five-day leadership camp at San Diego State University. The goal of the camp is to provide guidance in the lives of the young fatherless men, ages 10 to 17, with leadership skills, guidance, Godly values, academic assistance and a continual relationship with a mentor. Jake then hosted the boys to a game at PETCO Park at the conclusion of their camp. He has been involved with Team Focus since 2004. In 2006 & 2007, Jake has donated more than $20,000 to the Padres Scholars program which was matched by ownership to funds more than eight scholarships. Jake has participated in San Diego Children?s Hospital?s ?Celebration of Champions? event, which benefits their pediatric cancer care unit, since 2003, regularly visits with Make-A-Wish children and other special guests who get the opportunity to visit the ballpark and come early to meet with players. In addition, Peavy has also appeared at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation?s ?65 Roses Sports Club? events at the ballpark to help raise funds for research. Since 2003, Jake has been an active participant at military events in the San Diego community. Since 2006, Jake also donated $10,000 annually to Barry Zito?s Strikeout for Troops Foundation in support of injured service men and women.
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals: Ryan launched the ziMS Foundation in 2006 to raise awareness and funds for Multiple Sclerosis, a disease which has touched Ryan personally since his mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed in 1995. He has worked with both the Virginia Beach chapters and Greater Washington, D.C., chapters of the MS Society. In addition, Ryan is actively involved in Washington Nationals community outreach initiatives such as the 2007 Winter Caravan, visits to Walter Reed Medical Center and Children?s National Medical Center, park clean-ups, Library readings to promote literacy, PBATS clinic, children?s baseball clinics, in-park meet and greets, as well as assisting with the promotion of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. Ryan?s ziMS Foundation has partnered with Papa John?s Pizza to raise funds. Local Papa John?s restaurants will donate $1.11 from each Ryan Zimmerman Special large pizza redemption to the ziMS Foundation dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of MS. In addition, he supports Nationals initiatives. Ryan is involved with the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and has actively participated in the 2005 Diamond Gala and 2007 Dream Gala.
So . . . I hope this helps you in the voting process or at the very least gives you a better understanding of our heroes and the causes that are close to their hearts. It may even inspire you to donate your time to make a difference. We all have it innately within us to want to reach out to those who need us.
As the late Audrey Hepburn once said: ?Remember, if you need a helping hand, it is at the end of your arm. As you get older, remember you have another hand. The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.?