The Atlanta Braves celebrated the 4th annual Heritage Weekend presented by Delta Air Lines, Grady Hospital, and Bank of America on June 24 – 25.
The 2016 Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Awards presented by Air Lines were held at The Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) and hosted by V103’s Frank Ski. Derreck Kayongo, CEO of the CCHR, welcomed everyone and Braves Chairman Emeritus Bill Bartholomay presented the awards to four outstanding individuals who have made a lifelong commitment to overcoming industry obstacles and inspiring future generations.
The 2016 award recipients included:
Dolores Huerta – Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in 1962, was a founding Board Member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and is President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Among other prestigious honors, she has been awarded the Eleanor D. Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Bill Clinton and the Medal of Freedom Award from President Obama.
Marc Morial – Marc Morial served two terms as Mayor or New Orleans before being elected as the President and CEO of the National Urban League. He was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Chair of the Census Advisory Committee and as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability and the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission.
Oscar “The Big O” Robertson – Mr. Robertson led his high school basketball team to a national title – the first be an African American school in any sport. As the first three-time Collegiate Basketball National Player of the Year, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1961, NBA MVP in 1964, and the Co-Captain of the 1960 USA Olympic Gold Medal team, Oscar Robertson is commonly referred to as the “Player of the Century”, along with social activist, business owner, mentor, teacher and philanthropist.
John Schuerholz – Under the control of John Schuerholz, the Atlanta Braves won five National League pennants, one World Series, and several “Organization of the Year” awards. He is a member of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and will be inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame this year. He has also been recognized as the Major League Executive of the Year on multiple occasions. He is a longtime board member of YES Atlanta and Camp Sunshine.
Following the ceremony, the honorees participated in a spirited panel discussion moderated by Doug Shipman, the CEO and Managing Director of Brighthouse (Atlanta). The conversation centered around their individual journeys in working tirelessly for equality and civil rights for all of humanity and how sports unifies different cultures for a common goal. Mr. Morial shared his experiences growing up in Louisiana and dealing with racial inequality. Ms. Huerta described the inadequate working conditions farm workers experienced in the fields and the importance of giving a voice to the voiceless. This powerful conversation was well received by the audience and ended with a standing ovation.
Later that evening the honorees were recognized during a pre-game ceremony before the Braves vs. Mets game.
On Sunday, we celebrated our annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Day to honor men who have courageously battled prostate cancer and raise awareness in support of prostate cancer research.
Dr. Martin Sanda, Professor and Chief of Urology at Emory School of Medicine and Emory Healthcare, and Dr. Scott Miller, Director of Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery at Georgia Urology and Northside Hospital led a discussion, to a full room in a pre-game health seminar in an effort to increase prostate health awareness. Forty survivors, family members and fans who wanted to learn more about prostate health attended this very informative session.
Dr. Miller spoke on early detection while Dr. Sanda covered frontiers in patient-centered care. This was followed up by a joint Q&A segment where participants were able to learn more about the topics discussed in the seminar and the direction of finding a cure for this disease.
After the seminar, we walked the survivors down to the field, where they were honored during a pre-game ceremony. Braves manager Brian Snitker, coach Bo Porter and Pitcher Jim Johnson came out and met the survivors and participate in the ceremony.
We are so thankful for the prostate cancer survivors that spent their Sunday with us. It was a great event and the Braves winning was certainly icing on the cake! We are certainly excited to see all of our survivors next year at SunTrust Park!
On Monday, June 13, the Atlanta Braves honored Lindsey Haas as a Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-A. Lindsey is the founder of Fairy Tale Endings, a non-profit organization that collects dresses, shoes, and jewelry for disadvantaged teenage girls to attend prom. Fairy Tale Endings hosts private fittings and provides complimentary hair, make up, and photography services. Girls are referred to Fairy Tale Endings by guidance counselors at school, so that no other students know that they are in need.
After the birth of her first child, Lindsey wanted to show her daughter the importance of giving back to the community and the impact that one person can have. Lindsey had about 25 dresses that she didn’t know what to do with. Many of the dresses had sentimental value, so she wanted to do something special with them. In the first four months of Fairy Tale Endings, Lindsey was able to collect 600 dresses. Since Lindsey began her work in 2009, she has helped make the dreams of over 150 girls come true. Lindsey shared that the biggest personal reward is watching these girls transform into true princesses.
Fairy Tale Endings is in need of monetary donations to help with dry cleaning bills and prom tickets for those girls who can’t afford to attend prom. Larger dresses are harder to come by, so the organization is always looking for dresses size 16 and up and silver high heeled shoes.
To learn more about Fairy Tale Endings, please visit www.fairytaleendings.org.
Watch the video below to see Lindsey being honored at Turner Field!
The Atlanta Braves Foundation recently hosted our largest fundraiser of the season — Foundation Weekend. This annual event is a sports memorabilia sale and silent auction. Fans are able to purchase and bid on unique autographed memorabilia including bats, baseball and jerseys, one-of-a-kind Turner Field collectibles, framed pieces, and VIP experiences.
To ensure that there was something for every fan, young and old, at all price points, raffle were held for select autographed items. To make it fun and interesting, we allowed fans to purchase enough tickets to stretch the length of their wingspan for only twenty dollars! Fans were also encouraged to take advantage of Blue Light Specials where for a 10 minute period, certain autographed items were significantly discounted.
The funds raised during the Atlanta Braves Foundation Weekend will be distributed to numerous nonprofit organizations in Metro Atlanta through the foundation grants Program. For more information on the Atlanta Braves Foundation Grants Program, please visit www.braves.com/grants.
Thank you to all who supported the annual Atlanta Braves Foundation Weekend!
The Braves hosted the annual She Can Play Fitness Festival at Turner Field for more than 200 girls from all over Metro Atlanta. She Can Play is a free, health and fitness initiative that focuses on teaching young girls about healthy living and encouraging them to become involved in sports by demonstrating the importance of leading an active lifestyle. This is one of three components to the She Is Brave initiative which educates, empowers and inspires girls through a series of programs that promotes self-esteem, healthy and active lifestyles and leadership skills.
Participants visited six fitness stations hosted by local health and fitness professionals, learning everything from Zumba and hip-hop dance to yoga and kickboxing. Each station and group was equipped with a wonderful volunteer from the Braves front office or a military group. We were so lucky to have a group from Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL who woke up extremely early and drove into town to volunteer at this event!
On homeplate patio, Kandice from KFit Zumba had the girls shaking their hips and letting loose while dancing to today’s hottest hits. Gloria McDowell, wife of the Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, learned the dance moves alongside the girls.
In left field, Carly Gill, founder of Daily Does It Fitness, taught girls the importance of strength training by demonstrating lunges, squats, jumping jacks, sit-ups and more.
Grace Snell stretched it out at the Yoga station in center field. At this station the girls focused on the art of being calm while working out their bodies and their minds.
Former collegiate softball player, Megan Gant and her 13U fast pitch softball team from Foundation Sports in Peachtree City taught softball skills in right field. Girls learned how to throw and catch fly balls/ground balls. Donna Reed, wife of Braves bullpen coach Marty Reed, relived her days of playing softball while assisting in this station.
In the plaza, we had two different stations happening at once. On the plaza stage, Mikayla McGee had the girls dancing to upbeat hits while teaching hip-hop cardio. The girls always look forward to this station! The real hit was the Peach State Health Plan station, who brought a food truck and handed out PowerAde, water, and healthy snacks to all participants.
To close out morning, the girls all gathered for lunch while Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong 4 Life team presented an interactive healthy living workshop. 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 cutting down on sugary drinks.
A big THANK YOU to all of our wonderful instructors, group leaders, Air Force volunteers and Braves wives who volunteered their time to make this day extra special!
Youth baseball players ages 11 – 17 years old, were invited to Turner Field for the annual PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Clinic.
Atlanta Braves Athletic Trainer Jeff Porter kicked off the event with a warm-up similar to that of the BIG League players.
Following the warm-up, the athletes were divided into three groups and rotated to different stations including batting practice with Assistant Athletic Trainer Jim Lovell in the Braves batting cages; strength, agility and sprints in right field; and a Homerun for Health Station led by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation. Next the Taylor Hooten Foundation educated the athletes on the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs.
After the on-field events, the athletes enjoyed lunch thanks to Papa Johns and a Q&A with Braves outfielder, Nick Markakis. “We want to be good role models for the kids,” Markakis said. “We understand that a lot of youth are put in tough situations. From my standpoint, if I can help out 1, 2, or 3 kids, that can go a long way. This is a great opportunity to work with these kids and teach them how to do things the right way. I was honored to do it.” Markakis continued to share how important it is to do well in school and take education serious. He ended by taking photos with the baseball players and signing autographs.
Each participant received a gift bag from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation and two tickets to the Braves vs. Reds game that evening.
Special thanks to our partners the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), the Taylor Hooten Foundation, Major League Baseball Charities, and Henry Schein Cares Foundation; and to Jeff Porter, Jim Lovell, and Nick Markakis for their time.
For more coverage on the PLAY Clinic, check out Jon Cooper’s article at MLB.com: http://m.braves.mlb.com/news/article/183875014/nick-markakis-braves-host-play-youth-event
Community Heroes Week presented by the Atlanta Braves Foundation and Fox Sports South is a week-long community initiative that will highlight remarkable stories of inspirational individuals.
The initiative celebrates everyday people making a positive impact within their community regardless of their circumstances, in hopes of ultimately inspiring acts of kindness and giving back, both big and small, throughout Braves Country. The Community Heroes Week will highlight various acts of goodwill, often in the face of adversity or personal battles that will inspire others to become a catalyst for positive change in their communities.
Throughout Community Heroes Week, the Braves and Fox Sports South will shine a spotlight on a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support.
In an effort to reward the honorees for their courage, resilience, and service, each of the four honorees will be given a day of their dreams, complete with surprise elements involving Braves players, Fox Sports South personalities, dignitaries and other special guests. Each day will allow the honorees the opportunity to share their inspirational stories with the rest of Braves Country. To culminate the day, each honoree will be invited to Turner Field for a VIP experience and special ceremony during Braves games on August 16-19.
By involving our players, coaches and staff during the celebration of Community Heroes Week, the Braves and Fox Sports South are sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place. To that end, highlighting extraordinary individuals during Community Heroes Week provides an opportunity to generate awareness for specific causes and organizations.
The Nomination Process
We’re asking our fans to nominate and share the stories of friends, family members, neighbors or colleagues who are going above and beyond to positively impact and inspire those around them. These individuals may have overcome adversity or raised awareness of various issues affecting our community. To nominate these inspirational individuals visit www.braves.com/inspire. The nomination deadline is Friday, July 22, 2016.
On Memorial Day, the Atlanta Braves honored Scott Jergler, Director of the Atlanta Police Athletic League (PAL), as a Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-A. Atlanta PAL is a youth crime prevention initiative that includes recreational, athletic, and educational activities with the goal of building positive relationships between police officers, young people, and the community.
As the Director of PAL, Scott is in charge of day to day activities, in addition to being a coach. Scott coaches a youth baseball team, but he is actually more than a coach to the boys. He takes his team to other events outside of practice and games such as various forms of live entertainment, including a New Orleans Jazz Concert where the boys hopped up on stage to dance.
Scott keeps in touch with past players and hopes to be a resource for them in years to come. He has several former players who are currently in college and Scott shared that these boys are doing better than he could’ve hoped.
Please join the Braves in thanking Scott for all that he is doing for the Atlanta community.
For more information on the Atlanta Police Athletic League, please visit: http://www.atlantapal.com/
Watch the video below for the Braves’ tribute to Scott Jergler.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Atlanta Braves celebrated Play Ball Weekend with several events taking place at the ballpark and in the community. Play Ball is a nationwide initiative launched by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to celebrate and encourage youth participation in baseball, softball, and other various forms of the game including whiffle ball, stick ball, and several others.
On Friday, 30 youth baseball players, ages 14 – 18, attended pregame batting practice at Turner Field and spent time with Braves Rookie, Mallex Smith in the dugout. Mallex talked about how he approaches the game, and life, by making sure he works harder than anyone else to be successful.
On Saturday, the Atlanta Braves surprised youth baseball players at an early-bird tournament at Clarkdale Park in Austell, GA. Former and current Braves players including Brad Clontz, Javy Lopez, Matt Wisler, and Mallex Smith played whiffle ball with four teams and served as “celebrity coaches.” The Heavy Hitters, Tomahawk Team, and Homer lead the surprise parade of players into the park. Later that afternoon, youth from Clarkdale Park were asked to be a part of the Chevy Youth parade prior to the game.
Sixteen lucky youth who are part of various youth baseball leagues around Metro Atlanta were selected to participate in a cap giveaway, where they had the opportunity to be a part of player introductions during pregame of the Braves vs. Marlins game. Each kid received an autographed hat from the Braves and Marlins starting players.
Playball Weekend culminated on Sunday with a Kids Only press conference with pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and infielder Chase d’Arnaud. The little leaguers asked a variety of questions from their about their pregame meals, favorite baseball position growing up, and even their favorite animal (Mike Foltynewicz loves giraffes)!
We want to thank all the families and kids who were a part of the Atlanta Braves Play Ball Weekend! Keep playing the game we all love!
The Braves and infielder Gordon Beckham had the pleasure of granting the wish of a very special young fan.
Connor is a 4th grader at Picketts Mill Elementary School in Acworth, GA. In 2014, Connor was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor a rare form of kidney cancer and underwent radiation, followed by six months of chemotherapy.
Last year because of treatments, Connor missed Field Day, so this year’s annual field day was extremely important for him and his family because it celebrated one year of Connor being cancer free.
Connor’s wish was simple. He wanted to attend a Braves game with his family and friends and “see where the players eat and hang out.” We were beyond thrilled to grant his wish, in style.
During Picketts Mill’s Field Day, we arrived on the Fox Sports Fan Express charter Bus with Homer and our Tomahawk Team in tow. We surprised Connor during his class’s lunch time in the school media center with a special videotaped message from Braves infielder Gordon Beckham.
As Beckham’s message came to a close, Connor shouted, “this is the best day ever!” Homer and the Tomahawk Team led Connor out to the field where the whole school lined the sidewalks chanting his name. As field day came to an end, Connor and his family and friends boarded the Fox Sports Fan Express bus and made the trip to Turner Field.
Meeting them at the door of the bus, the Braves gameday ambassador team took the group on a tour of the ballpark while Connor was greeted by Beckham. After touring the locker room, getting to see where the team eats and hangs out, Braves outfielder Mallex Smith swept Connor away to let him hit some baseballs in the Braves bullpen. After the tours were over, everyone met back on the field for family photos.
The fun didn’t end there, in the bottom of the 1st inning, Connor played the Napa Cap Shuffle on BravesVision and won a Kroger gift card! (His second wish was a lifetime supply of cheese). In the 3rd inning, Connor helped the Braves grounds crew change out first base. To round out the activities for the evening, our Heavy Hitters drum line let Connor bang the big drum in center field during the Tomahawk Chop. During this particular inning, with Connor cheering from the drum, Beckham got up to bat and slapped in a game-tying hit. Connor went nuts.
At the end of the night, after extra innings, Connor and his team were escorted out to the parking lot for yet another surprise… a limo to take them home!
What an amazing day! Connor’s wish was granted, and we were extremely excited to partner with Make-A-Wish Georgia to make it happen. We will forever be #ConnorStrong.