All Star Teacher Visits the Twin Cities – A Note from Judy Stewart

Major League Baseball, Target and PEOPLE Magazine teamed up for the “Target Presents PEOPLE All-Star Teachers” campaign, which celebrated remarkable current and retired teachers who have made an impact on the lives of their students and communities. Fans were encouraged to nominate outstanding teachers from all 30 MLB cities for the chance to represent their favorite team and be honored during the pre-game ceremony of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game in Minneapolis on July 15th.

Braves Country selected a well-deserving educator to represent the Braves at the MLB All Star Game. Judy Stewart of Acworth, GA was the outstanding teacher that got the trip of a lifetime. She was asked to “guest blog” for us and tell us a little bit about what the experience meant to her. Take it away, Judy!

I wanted to let the Braves organization know what an honor it has been to represent the Braves at the All Star game. Everyone has been so kind. The three days we were in Minneapolis were busy but loaded with fun and exciting activities.

On Sunday, after our arrival, we were honored at a reception at Target Commons. We had a chance to meet the other winners from all over the country and Canada. We met with some of the executives from the Target Corporation, People Magazine and MLB. We made pictures of each other and Bullseye, the Target Mascot. The highlight of the night was meeting Cal Ripkin Jr., where he was the keynote speaker. All of the teachers received a Tiffany engraved star, a new I Pad mini and a Target gift card. What an amazing first day.

Monday began with a brunch with fellow teachers and our guests. We were then taken to the All Star Press conference where the coaches and pitchers were introduced. We then had pictures and interview from the press. After a short break of free time, helped conduct a Target service event at the Target Arena. We were able to help put together 10, 000 back to school kits for children in the Minneapolis area. The kits will be distributed through the Kids in Need program. The Home Run Derby was our next destination. We were able to view the Derby from our seats in a very nice suite. We had so much fun getting to know each other and share stories from our home towns. We ended the night at the All Star Gala in the old Mill district.

On Tuesday, we were up and at it very early. We were taken to Target Stadium for breakfast in the Twins dining room. The rehearsal for the pregame show was next. We had been told that they had been practicing for days with stand-ins for us. As we began to practice, we soon realized that Idina Menzel was already there to practice. As she stood directly behind me, I tried to sneak a picture. During a short break, she was gracious enough to allow us to take some pictures. Following the practice we had the biggest surprise of the day, a visit from Dr. Jill Biden. She was so kind and knew every one of our stories. We each had a picture made with her. She even joined us on the trolleys that we rode during the All Star parade. It was a blast to wave and talk to people along the parade route.

Tuesday evening was the big event! As we waited to go on the field, it began to sink in that this was really happening! We watched the crowd file in and the players were announced. Then our big moment arrived. As we walked onto the field, Idina Menzel started to sing. What a feeling!!! Ms. Menzel sang the National Anthem as we watched the huge flag open across the field. There was also a fly over by the Thunderbird Air Corp. As we left the field we walked through rows of children holding American flags and cheering for us.

In the suite, we were honored to find Dr. Jill Biden, sitting next to my husband. We also were visited by Idina Menzel for pictures. Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s daughter, also came by to congratulate us and share some thoughts. It was an incredible night and no one wanted to leave. I have made new friends that I will always remember. This has been a truly amazing adventure for me. Even upon returning home, I have been truly honored by the congratulations and out pouring of love and support. I only wish that every teacher could feel this way every single day.

I look forward to the beginning of the new school year in just a few short days. I am going to incorporate this experience into my classroom and use the All Star theme for my class décor. I am going to encourage my students to be “All Star Students” this year. Thanks again for all you have done during this experience.

The Atlanta Braves would like to congratulate Judy and all of the educators who were honored in Minneapolis. Thank you for making difference in the lives of our youth!

To learn more about all 30 winners, visit mlb.com/allstar-teachers.

Wounded Warrior Classic – Bravest of the Brave Visit Turner Field for VIP Treatment

Last month, as a part of our monthly Braves Care front office staff volunteer initiative, we welcomed the men and women of the Wounded Warrior Project, a veterans service organization for wounded veterans,to Turner Field to show our appreciation for their service and heroism.

The Warriors arrived at the ballpark around 10am for a VIP all-access tour of Turner Field, the Braves Museum the press box and the Braves Clubhouse. At the conclusion of their tour, the Warriors were surprised by our front office staff, who were waiting to have lunch with our special guests of honor. Our team President, John Schuerholz, greeted and thanked the Warriors for serving our country, and posed for a photo with the group.

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Following lunch, our staff distributed Braves goodie bags including sports equipment donated by Mizuno. All of the Warriors received new baseball equipment such as wood bats, baseball gloves, batting gloves and helmets. With new equipment in hand, Braves staff and the Warriors headed down to the field for batting practice.

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As they approached the field, there was one more surprise ….exiting from the Braves dugout in Braves jerseys were our very own Braves alumni players who came to spend the afternoon with the Warriors. Everyone cheered as we welcomed Jim Nash, Charlie Liebrandt, Marty Perez, Alejandro Pena, Greg McMichael, Craig Skok, Terry Harper, and Chris Hammond.

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Each Warrior had an opportunity to take batting practice just like our very own Braves players do before a game. The Warriors took around 5-10 hacks and ran around in the outfield shagging fly balls with Braves staff while mingling with our alumni players. With Sharpies and pens in hand, our Braves players signed autographs for everyone in attendance, and some Warriors opted to have on their new Mizuno equipment signed, even bartering push-ups for autographs!

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Braves Executive Vice President of Business Operations, Mike Plant stopped by during batting practice to meet the Warriors.

At the end of their visit,our special guests gathered by the Braves dugout for a group photo and final remarks. Many Warriors told us that this was one of their favorite Wounded Warrior Project events, some even saying that this was the best day of their lives!

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It was an honor to have these exceptional men and women at Turner Field for a fun day with the Braves Staff! To top off this incredible day, we were on 11alive news that evening! Check out the footage below:

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Over 1,000 People Become U.S. Citizens at Turner Field

Over the 4th of July holiday, the Atlanta Braves were excited to open the doors to Turner Field and witness 1,097 candidates take the Oath of Allegiance, the final step in completing the process of becoming a United States Citizen. Over 120 countries were represented at this ceremony from countries including Afghanistan, Brazil, Cameroon, Malaysia, Japan, Jordan and Nigeria.

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More than 3,500 candidates, family members and friends arrived at Turner Field as early as 6:00 a.m. for this special Naturalization Ceremony. The candidates embarked on a lengthy application process that started the moment they decided to pursue their dream of becoming American citizens. As they walked into Monument Grove, the vibes of nervousness, excitement, and surrealism of completing this milestone in their lives could be felt throughout the ballpark.

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For many, this was their first time visiting Turner Field and we greeted them with smiles on our faces and congratulatory remarks, as our staff was just as excited to be a part of this memorable day. Our guests of honor visited the Braves Museum and learned about our team’s history, and children who were there to witness their mom, dads, or other family members take the oath, took turns playing the interactive baseball games in Scouts Alley. All 3,5000 guests were entertained by Homer the Mascot and our Heavy Hitters Drumline as they performed in the Fan Plaza to the cheers of the crowd.

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To kick off the ceremony, the Heavy Hitters marched all of the candidates to their seats followed by their family and friends. Atlanta Braves President, John Schuerholz welcomed everyone and congratulated them on accomplishing their goals and realizing their dreams. Ed Jennings, US Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator, gave the keynote address. After the list of countries were read out loud, candidates stood and together recited the Oath of Allegiance and were sworn in as U.S. Citizens by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government entity responsible for handling Citizenship.

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At that moment Turner Field was filled with cheers as a message from President Obama was played congratulating the new Citizens. Many could not contain their emotions. As Lee Greenwood’s song, “God Bless the USA” played, tears of joy and excitement were seen in the faces of many as our newest citizens waived their American flags high in the air.

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As part of the celebration, everyone was invited to enjoy American’s favorite pastime, baseball! They received a free ticket to the Braves vs. Mets game that evening with the opportunity to participate in the pregame parade around the field. This was truly an important occasion that will be a lasting memory for these new Braves fans. We spoke with Ariel from Colombia about her experience going through the citizenship process and how it felt to become a citizen at last.

Congratulations to our newest U.S Citizens! We were truly honored to have you at the Home of the Braves.

Jerseys Off Our Back Online Auction

On Saturday, June 14, the Atlanta Braves Foundation hosted the winners of our annual Jerseys Off Our Backs Online Auction. This once in a lifetime experience gives fans an opportunity to win their favorite player’s jersey, RIGHT OFF THEIR BACK! The winners of each game-worn autographed jersey also received two tickets to the game on June 14th and the chance to take part in a post-game ceremony to receive their jersey. The auction was live online at http://www.braves.com/charityauctions from May 12th through June 4th and boy did the bidding war get pretty intense. Some jerseys sold for several thousand dollars!

After a long, hard fought 12-inning game by the home team, auction winners finally experienced the moment they had been waiting for all night. As each player came off the field, they signed their jerseys and the winners were brought onto the field for the post-game ceremony. Winners were presented with their game-worn autographed jerseys by Braves 3rd baseman Chris Johnson and also got to pose for a photo!

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The auction was extremly special to the winner of the Johnson jersey who anxiously waited to meet him after the lengthy night. At the moment of the presentation, the winner approached Johnson with a smile on his face, shook his hand, received his jersey and expressed his excitement to the player. The evening was a memorable one for all winners!

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The auction benefited the Atlanta Braves Foundation, the non-profit charitable arm of the Atlanta Braves. Through the Jerseys Off Our Backs Online Auction, the Braves Foundation annually distributes grants to nonprofit organizations that focuses on youth baseball, health, and children initiatives. We are appreciative and thankful for all of the participants that continue to support the Braves commitment to impact Braves Country.

Be sure to look out for next year’s Jerseys Off Our Backs Auction and don’t miss your opportunity to go on the field and meet your favorite Braves player!

She Can Play 2014

On Wednesday, June 25 we hosted the annual “She Can Play” Fitness Fest at Turner Field. “She Can Play” is a free, health and fitness initiative that focuses on teaching young girls about healthy living, encouraging them to become involved in sports by demonstrating the importance of leading an active lifestyle. More than 400 girls ages 8-12 joined us from organizations including the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Field of Dreams Academy, City of Atlanta Camp Best Friends, Girls on the Run, Brownsmill Softball, Redan Park Softball, and CHOICES.

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During the event the girls participated in seven different fitness stations, hosted by local health and fitness groups. From Zumba and hip-hop dance to yoga and kickboxing, the girls enjoyed learning innovative ways to stay active while having fun. They also attended an interactive healthy living workshop hosted by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and were provided a Fitness Fest t-shirt and a healthy lunch.

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In left field, former Miss Georgia contestant Carly Gill from Daily Dose Fitness along with Amy Santana, wife of Braves pitcher Ervin Santana, taught girls the ins and outs of strength training. Participants did lunges, squats, jumping jacks, sit-ups and much more.

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Torch Fitness kicked it up a notch in center field with kid-friendly kickboxing and agility instruction. Participants learned different types of kicks and punches while others learned agility drills. The girls loved this station as they also learned different exercises they can do at home.

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In right field, Nicole Walters from Bending Branch Yoga stretched it out with the help of Veronica Ramirez, wife of Braves coach Horacio Ramirez. At this station the girls focused on the art of being calm while working out their bodies and their minds.

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You can’t come to a Major League Baseball ballpark and not learn anything about baseball! In the Braves bullpen and Braves batting cage, the girls got to work with former collegiate baseball players to perfect their swings and throwing arms.

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The real fun was at the patio and plaza areas, where the energetic Latin music and today’s Hip-Hop hits were playing and girls got the chance to swing their hips and learn exciting new dance moves. Janet Ackerman’s team from Zumba Atlanta got the girls really moving at the Zumba station while Samantha from Project S.L.I.D.E. taught exciting dance combinations.

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Once the girls rotated through the different stations, they all came together for an interactive healthy living workshop hosted by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong 4 Life group. They gave tips such as adding more veggies and fruits to their plates, being active for 60 minutes a day, limiting screen time to one hour, drinking more water and limiting sugary drinks. This workshop capped an exciting day by teaching the girls a number of ways to be healthy by making wise decisions and staying active.

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As you can see we certainly had fun at “She Can Play” this year, and we hope our 400 participants did as well!

The Atlanta Braves Celebrate Prostate Cancer Survivors on Father’s Day

Each Father’s Day, we honor prostate cancer survivors from across Braves Country at an Atlanta Braves game. During this year’s celebration the Braves and Northside Hospital welcomed 40 prostate cancer survivors with a special on-field ceremony prior to the Angels game, a commemorative Prostate Cancer Awareness Day t-shirt and free Braves tickets for them and their families. The survivors were eager to get on the field and were very grateful for the celebratory presentation. As the survivors stood on the field, the Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez, pitcher David Carpenter, and catcher Gerald Laird joined our special guests. These men were ecstatic to shake the hands or get a hug from some of their favorite Braves manager or players.

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Prior to the game, the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition shared information with Braves fans on the early signs of prostate cancer, provided resources for support groups, and shared latest medical findings. The Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition promotes awareness of prostate cancer and the importance of regular screening as a part of the early detection process through speaking engagements and health fairs. They also partner with hospitals, clinics, and urologists to offer free screening events during the year especially for the uninsured.

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This evening was very special for these survivors. Many of them told us they were just thankful to be able to share their stories and provide support for other survivors. This truly was a day of celebration not only for Fathers but Prostate Cancer Survivors!

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Vote Now for Your Favorite Atlanta Braves All Star Teacher

This season Major League Baseball is partnering with Target and PEOPLE Magazine to recognize educators in our communities that make an everlasting difference in their student’s lives. One teacher will represent each of the 30 MLB teams at the 2014 All Star Game next month in Minneapolis.

After the nomination period ended, a committee narrowed down each group of nominees to three finalists for each team. Our outstanding finalists are Katherine Heidrich of Charlotte NC, Kelly Ogles of Carrolton, GA and Judy Stewart of Acworth, GA.

Kathrerine Van Heidrich has always had a strong devotion to teaching, volunteerism and community building. Katherine graduated from Brown University with a degree in African Studies and Religious Studies and chose teaching because she wanted to teach in an inner city school so she could give back to the community that gave her so much. This Braves fan makes a difference outside of the classroom as well. In 2013, Katherine heard that one of her former students was losing his home a few days before the start of school and it was due to be auctioned by a predatory lender. Katherine took to social networks and in a single day raised $12,000. She saved that family’s home, bought school supplies, clothes and reconnected their utilities.

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Kelly Ogles joined the Navy serving as its first female photographer assigned to a P-3 squadron. She returned to school to earn her bachelor’s degree, currently working on her masters, specifically focused on teaching at-risk and minority students. Each year, this Braves fan makes a scrapbook for her eighth grade class and presents it to them when they graduate high school. Students from the high school routinely visit her to thank her for her inspiration. Kelly encourages her students to take advantage of their educational opportunities. Her classroom is lined with college banners encouraging students to set a goal early in life of getting a college education and to not settle for anything less. Kelly has received several awards including Teacher of the Month and Teacher of Year and she has received local and federal grants.

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Our third finalist, Judy Stewart, has a passion for teaching and she’s always ready step up to the plate when asked. In 33 years, she’s taught almost every grade and subject at Oak Grove Elementary, from second grade computer class to ESOL (English as a second language). Changing positions, taking on new students and even giving up her class in order to better provide for her students, Judy is no stranger to sacrifice. In 1980 at the beginning of her career, Judy’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she became her primary caretaker. Judy’s influence and inspiration can be witnessed in so many ways from the gifts and visits of former students, to the dances, silly songs, hugs and tears of joy shared with grateful students.

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Each of these incredible stories truly depicts the character needed to represent the Braves this year at the 2014 All Star Game. On Monday night, we were happy to welcome Judy and Kelly to the ballpark to honor them on-field and introduce them to Braves Country with the help of Target and Braves legend John Smoltz. Unfortunately, Katherine was unable to join us, as she is in Oklahoma training young teachers.

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To vote and read more information about each of our finalists, please visit allstarteachers.com.

 

TRIVIA!! Answer the following trivia question and be the first to send your answer to bravesfoundation@braves.com for the chance to win an autographed baseball by a Braves player!

Question: The Braves will wear their military jerseys 5 times total throughout the season which will honor the different branches of the military. Which 5 military non-profit organizations will be benefiting from these special game nights?

Atlanta Braves Baseball & Softball Equipment Drive presented by RaceTrac

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We teamed up with RaceTrac and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund on Memorial Day for our annual equipment drive to support the growth of youth baseball and softball across the metro Atlanta.
Fans brought gently used baseball and softball equipment to the game and received raffle tickets for the opportunity to win autographed Braves memorabilia.
If you missed this drive, there is still time to donate to the following equipment drives taking place on June 14, July 19, and August 9 in Monument Grove. Visit braves.com/equipmentdrive for a list of items to donate. equip3

Supporting the Brave: A Memorial Day Donation Drive Benefiting the USO

In honor of Memorial Day, we asked Braves Country to donate items that will go inside military care packages assembled by the United Service Organization (USO).

Marines and Army soldiers took over Monument Grove on Memorial Day Weekend during the Braves Rockies in an effort to promote their services and collect much needed items for the troops.

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The USO provides morale, welfare, and recreational services for members of our armed forces. Stationed at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport, you’ve probably seen the USO as they welcomes soldiers home weekly when they arrive back in the USA either on rest and relaxation or military leave. This organization allows these soldiers a place to rest and eat during their layovers in the airport and spend time with their families as they arrive back home. The USO also utilizes all donations to create care packages for troops stationed overseas and domestically away from their families.

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We collected hundreds of items including napkins, utensils, paper plates, snacks and water and over $2,000 from Braves fans. These items will certainly help give our brave service men and women the warm Atlanta welcome that they deserve whether that is through a care package sent overseas or a hot meal in the USO headquarters.

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The USO will be at the Ted again on Friday, September 19 for Military Appreciation Night, with an online Braves game worn military jersey auction to follow. Please visit braves.com/charityauctions to find out more information and to support our troops!

Jerseys Off Our Back – Bidding Going on Now!

Each season, the Atlanta Braves Foundation provides fans with unique opportunities to get up close and personal with their favorite Braves players. Jerseys Off Our Backs is a once in a lifetime experience that give fans the chance to go onto the field after a game and receive the jersey RIGHT OFF THE BACK of their favorite player.

Maybe you’re a Freddie Freeman fan or an Evan Gattis fan, well place your bid today and win two (2) tickets to attend the Saturday, June 14 game vs. the Angels and the chance to be part of the on field jersey presentation.

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Oh, and did we mention that a Braves player will actually present the jersey to you on the field after the game?

Bid now through Wednesday, June 4 at braves.com/charityauctions and experience this once in a lifetime opportunity and support the Braves Foundation at the same time!

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