Through a variety of programs, OriolesREACH's long standing partnership with the Maryland Food Bank continued to grow in 2013, with more programs and more families throughout the state benefitting than ever before.
The Orioles, along with the Orioles Wives, Oriole Advocates, WJZ-TV and MASN personalities, Von Paris Moving and Storage and the Maryland Food Bank, held their 27th annual Food and Funds Drive at Oriole Park at Camden Yards from July 26-28 during the series against the Boston Red Sox. Members of these groups collected nonperishable food items and monetary donations from fans at each ballpark entrance. All food and funds collected were sent to the Maryland Food Bank to benefit families in need throughout the state. More than 9,870 pounds of food and $34,270 in cash donations were collected, shattering the previous year's totals of 4,000 pounds of food and $20,000 in cash donations.
On May 16, Buck and Angela Showalter were honorees at the Maryland Food Bank Founders Day Event. The Showalters were recognized for their leadership and commitment to the community, including their work with the KidsPeace organization and efforts to support the Maryland Food Bank. The evening also celebrated the 18-year partnership between the Orioles organization and the Maryland Food Bank, including financial support, food drives and volunteering.
The Showalters also joined other Orioles wives and staff and KidsPeace youth, foster parents, staff and board members for a day of service at the Maryland Food Bank on August 19. KidsPeace and OriolesREACH are proud to partner with one of Baltimore's top charities, as the youth participating in the service day were part of KidsPeace's KEYS (KidsPeace Empowering Youth to Succeed) program, providing critical life skills training to youth before they age out of the foster care system.
On September 9, the Oriole Wives joined forces with the Baltimore Ravens wives and volunteers at the Maryland Food Bank to sort and package food for distribution to hungry families. The volunteer session came just one week into Hunger Action Month, in which food banks across the country strive to raise awareness and inspire action against hunger. At the heart of the Maryland Food Bank's Hunger Action Month promotion is the Be A Voice Campaign, which asks Marylanders to speak out against hunger by donating food, funds or time; and by using their social media feeds to spread the word. According to the Maryland Food Bank, the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens families are prime examples of what it means to "be a voice," hosting annual food and funds drives, offering volunteer support and engaging other organizations in the work of the food bank.
Throughout 2013, Buck and Angela Showalter were devoted supporters of several organizations including KidsPeace and the Maryland Food Bank.
On Mother's Day, the Orioles, Major League Baseball and Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced the winner of the Honorary Bat Girl contest, a campaign to recognize incredible MLB fans who are going to bat against breast cancer in their daily lives. The winner of the contest for the Orioles was Krista McKenzie-McElwain of Walkersville, MD, a mother of three who was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in October 2011. Krista works two jobs, one as a pediatric nutritionist and the other in financial aid at her daughter's school. She was recognized in a special on-field ceremony prior to the Orioles game against the San Diego Padres and also threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Orioles also donated 200 tickets to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Maryland supporters to attend the May 14 game. Members from Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Maryland were at the OriolesREACH Community Booth and held an auction featuring commemorative items. The Honorary Bat Girl contest was developed to raise additional awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer program, a joint program between MLB and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer organization.
On April 19 and June 13, Brian Matusz visited with pediatric patients at the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai on behalf of the Casey Cares Foundation. The Casey Cares Foundation is a charity that provides uplifting programs for critically ill children.
In 2008, the Orioles and OriolesREACH established a fund, created in memory of Shannon Obaker, the team's former Director of Community Outreach who bravely fought cancer for over a year before passing away in 2007 at the age of 29. The University of Maryland Medical Center administers Shannon's Fund with monies donated to patients and their family members as need arises to assist with the general expenses associated with the treatment process, including hospital parking, alternate housing, food costs and household bills. On May 18, the Orioles hosted an exclusive fundraising event for Shannon's Fund. For a $50 donation, fans received a left field lower box game ticket and enjoyed a pre-game party on the Roof Deck that included visits from Brady Anderson, Mike Bordick, Dave Johnson and current Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. The Oriole Bird posed for photos with fans attending the event while the Orioles conducted a silent auction of O's memorabilia and autographed items on the main concourse, raising more than $20,000 for the fund.
On May 21, Adam Jones and Yankees pitcher David Robertson represented all Major League Baseball players when they presented a check in the amount of $10,000 to the Cool Kids Campaign Foundation located in Towson, MD. The Cool Kids Campaign was co-founded by Rob Belanger, son of the late Oriole great and MLBPA Special Assistant Mark Belanger, and its mission is to improve the quality of life of children living with cancer. The funds from the Players Association and proceeds from other events, including the Ken Singleton Celebrity Golf Classic, enable the Cool Kids Foundation to create programs for the children and their families, including a new learning center.
May was national ALS Awareness month. To continue baseball's long-standing commitment to raising awareness of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Major League Baseball and all 30 Clubs once again teamed up for "4 ALS." On May 30, the Orioles hosted The Brigance Brigade Foundation. The Brigance Brigade Foundation, founded by former Baltimore Ravens player O.J. Brigance and his wife, Chanda, was created to equip, encourage and empower people living with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, an illness from which Brigance himself suffers. The Foundation strives to improve the quality of life of ALS patients and their families by providing much-needed equipment, resource guidance and support services, as well as funding for various ALS research initiatives. Chanda, accompanied by O.J., threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Orioles' game against the Washington Nationals. The Orioles donated 100 tickets for the game to the Brigance Brigade Foundation for ALS patients and their families, as well as Foundation volunteers. O.J. Brigance is a championship football player who is one of the few players to have won both a CFL and NFL championship and the only player to accomplish this feat in the same city, Baltimore. In 2000, Brigance played for the Baltimore Ravens and made the first tackle in their win in Super Bowl XXXV. After his retirement as a player, Brigance returned to Baltimore to serve as the Director of Player Development for the Ravens, and since 2010, Brigance has been the Ravens' Senior Advisor to Player Development.
For the first time ever at Oriole Park, the Orioles, in partnership with Majestic, hosted more than 300 fans playing catch on the field on Father's Day, June 16, prior to that day's game against the Boston Red Sox. Proceeds totaling more than $15,000 from the sold-out event benefitted the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation.
For 15 years, the American Academy of Dermatology and MLB have teamed up to educate the public on the dangers of sun exposure and to bring awareness to skin cancer prevention and detection. On June 2, Boy Scouts escorted by Orioles Assistant Athletic Trainer Brian Ebel delivered sunscreen to each dugout prior to the game against the Detroit Tigers. MLB encourages fans to always remember to apply sunscreen, wear sunglasses and put on an Orioles cap.
Leading up to Father's Day, Major League Baseball partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer for the 17th annual Prostate Cancer Foundation Home Run Challenge to raise funds for prostate cancer research and awareness efforts. From June 11 through June 16, fans were able to make a monetary pledge at homerunchallenge.org for each home run hit in all MLB games during the six-day period. Since its inception, the Home Run Challenge has raised more than $40 million for prostate cancer research. On Father's Day, June 16, the Orioles selected a father to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to their game against the Boston Red Sox. Around the league, Major League Baseball players, managers, coaches, trainers, umpires and groundskeepers promoted prostate cancer awareness and showed their support for those affected by the disease by wearing blue wristbands and blue ribbon uniform decals. Clubs also used a special blue Major League Baseball Father's Day lineup card.
On June 27, the Orioles recognized the Soft Side Team from the Show Your Soft Side campaign, which was established to combat the alarming incidence of animal abuse in Baltimore. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are spokesmen for the campaign, and Buck Showalter and Nate McLouth officially joined them as spokesmen in a pre-game ceremony in which they received Soft Side Team jerseys. The jerseys were signed and raffled off at the Community Booth during the game.
The Orioles have supported the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), a non-profit shelter that accepts and cares for all animals in need and promotes responsible pet ownership for a more humane community in Baltimore City, through pet calendar sales and player appearances at the shelter over the last several years, raising close to $100,000 for the organization through these efforts. The club continued its support of BARCS on August 17 as Wei-Yin Chen, J.J. Hardy, Nate McLouth, Troy Patton, Chris Tillman and Matt Wieters appeared at the shelter to sign autographs for those who purchased a 2014 Orioles Pet Calendar, presented by High's Dairy Stores. To help further support BARCS' efforts, Orioles players and coaches including Buck Showalter, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Nate McLouth, Darren O'Day, Ryan Flaherty and Matt Wieters appeared at "Pawz for Pazo," an exclusive event at PAZO Restaurant in Harbor East on September 8. The largest companion animal shelter in Maryland, BARCS takes in more than 12,000 dogs and cats and 1,000 wildlife and other small mammals annually. On any given day, BARCS cares for 110 dogs and 110 cats in the shelter, plus more than 800 animals in foster care. Almost $50,000 was raised for BARCS through the Player Pet Calendar Sales in 2013 and an additional $26,000 was raised at Pawz for Pazo.
Prior to their game against the Oakland Athletics on August 23, the Orioles recognized children from the Y of Central Maryland in an on-field ceremony. With the support of Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, the Y of Central Maryland's Send a Child to Camp campaign raised a record high of $238,524 this year, more than doubling last year's total of $117,000. From June 5 through July 16, every $175 donation to the campaign included entry into a raffle to win four premium lower reserve tickets to an Orioles home game and the opportunity to meet Jones at batting practice. A total of 386 children have been provided scholarship financial assistance to attend Y Journeys summer camps this year in Baltimore City and throughout Central Maryland thanks in part to Jones' support and a $17,500 donation to the program by the Orioles Charitable Foundation.
On September 8, the Oriole Advocates conducted their 2013 Cardboard to LeatherTM collection at Oriole Park, presented by Legg Mason. The Oriole Advocates created the program in 1992 to provide new and used baseball and softball equipment to underprivileged youth in developing countries. Since the program started, tons of equipment has been delivered to little league ball players throughout the world in places such as Afghanistan, Aruba, Belgrade, Belize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Fans were encouraged to bring new or gently used baseball equipment to the Orioles game to be used in this year's distribution. Financial donations were accepted to help with shipping costs. The Oriole Advocates Charitable Foundation also conducted a silent auction of sports memorabilia. Funds raised from the auction were used to support the Cardboard to LeatherTM program, which this year will provide baseball equipment to players in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. In a special ceremony prior to the game, representatives from Legg Mason joined Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who presented the Oriole Advocates Charitable Foundation with a $15,000 contribution for the Cardboard to Leather Equipment Collection. In addition, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund awarded a grant of $5,000 to the Foundation for the purchase of new equipment. Proceeds from the collection, silent auction and check presentations will benefit youth baseball leagues in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic Nuevo Leon and Puebla, Mexico. Collection total from the September 8 event included more than $4,400 in cash, 1,234 pieces of equipment collected from fans and an Orioles donation of 6,204 items, for a grand total of 7,438 pieces of baseball and softball equipment.
On August 24, Jason Hammel signed autographs in exchange for a $10 donation to Fidos For Freedom at the organization's offices. Fidos For Freedom, Inc. is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Founded in 1987, Fidos' mission is to enhance the quality of life of people living in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, MD metropolitan communities by providing specially trained hearing dogs, service dogs and therapy dogs to those individuals with disabilities, children with reading difficulties and patients in health care facilities.
The Orioles joined Major League Baseball to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 by wearing special caps with the American flag for their game against the New York Yankees. The gameworn, autographed and authenticated hats were auctioned online with all proceeds to benefit the Frank J. Battaglia Signal 13 Foundation, which provides financial assistance to Baltimore Police Department personnel who suffer extreme personal emergencies. The auction raised more than $12,000 for the Signal 13 Foundation. The Orioles also observed a moment of silence prior to the National Anthem in honor of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. In addition, the U.S. Army Quartet sung "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch.
The OriolesREACH High Five Fundraising Program continues to help local non-profit groups, civic organizations, schools and youth groups raise money for their efforts. In 2013 the High Five Program helped raise $258,115 for local groups, bringing its total raised since 2005 to more than $1.4 million. For additional information on the High Five Program, please visit orioles.com/highfive.