Braves staff served lunch to 100 men at the Shepherd’s Inn homeless shelter at the Atlanta Mission in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Shepherd’s Inn serves around 450 men every day, providing them hot meals, counseling, and a comfortable place to sleep.
Spending quality time with these men was an amazing way to kick off the season of giving! For more information about the Atlanta Mission and the Shepherd’s Inn, please visit http://www.atlantamission.org.
The Atlanta Braves Foundation operates as the nonprofit charitable arm of the Atlanta Braves and is committed to giving back to the community. Since 1994, the Braves Foundation has supported various Atlanta-based nonprofit organizations and has contributed more than $6 million in monetary and in-kind donations to the Braves Country community.
We are able to raise these funds through various fundraisers throughout the season such as the 50/50 Raffle, our annual Foundation Weekend memorabilia sale, in-game and special event silent auctions, online auctions, the Atlanta Braves Foundation Golf Tournament, and the Annual Leadoff Luncheon. Braves fans, players and sponsors play a huge role in helping us make a difference in our community by supporting all of these initiatives.
At the beginning of each Braves season, we invite non-profit organizations to apply for our annual grants program to receive funding to assist in their outreach efforts. The applicants must be youth-serving organizations that support education, recreation, and health initiatives. The process is very competitive, as there are so many great organizations in the area that are in desperate need of funding.
During the last week of the season and throughout the year, the Braves Foundation awarded more than $400,000 in grants to 48 deserving organizations. This funding will support initiatives including after-school programs, health and wellness initiatives, anti-bullying campaigns, athletic programs just to name a few. Listed below are our 2015 Atlanta Braves Foundation Grant Recipients.
- Alive Ministries – Will use funds to purchase food and toiletries for local children and families in need.
- Anti-Defamation League – Will support the “No Place for Hate” anti-bullying initiative in schools.
- Arthritis Foundation- Sustain and expand the Juvenile Arthritis programs and services.
- Atlanta Ronald McDonald House – Provide a comfortable “home away from home” for families traveling to Atlanta to receive medical attention for their children.
- Attachment & Trauma Network – Support an interactive Therapeutic Parenting Skills Building Weekend for parents of traumatized and attachment disordered children.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta – Will support initiatives for bigs and littles including college mentoring and healthy living workshops.
- Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta – Will integrate healthy living values into an edible landscape community garden at Anderson Boys and Girls Club.
- Brian Jordan Back to the Future Foundation – Hosts a free baseball clinic for more than 200 disadvantaged children.
- Bright Futures Atlanta – Integrate technology into the After School and Summer programs.
- Camp Kudzu – Will support the diabetes management overnight summer education program.
- Camp Sunshine – Will enrich the lives of Georgia’s children with cancer and their families through year-round support programs.
- Center for Pan Asian Community Services – Help disadvantaged Hispanic youth receive a high school diploma or GED and obtain meaningful work.
- Center for the Visually Impaired – Support programming specific to health and fitness education in the STARS After School Enrichment Program and STARS Summer Enrichment Camp for visually impaired students.
- Center for Working Families – Support the development of family enrichment and healthy relationship workshops.
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Will purchase 600 bike helmets to distribute during bike safety week.
- Christian Aid Mission Partnership – Will provide new shoes and backpacks filled with school supplies for disadvantaged youth.
- Cobb Alcohol Task Force – Facilitate a program in Marietta city schools focusing on social issues.
- Cobb Community Foundation – Provides diapers to families in need.
- Cobb County Public School Educational Foundation – Focuses on college readiness by providing tutoring for SAT and ACT exams.
- Cobb Health Future Foundation – Educates youth on media, physical activity and nutrition.
- Cool Girls, Inc. – Funds the Cool Fitness Program which supports the after school program, summer fitness initiative and Saturday field trips.
- CURE Childhood Cancer – Provides family meals at Aflac Cancer Center.
- East Lake Foundation – Fund educational materials for RISE after school program at Drew Charter School.
- Georgia Avenue Community Ministry – Will feed low-income families.
- Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation – Will fund programming which provides memorable vacations for families dealing with cancer.
- Just Us Girls – Increases educational support for girls including SAT and ACT prep and etiquette classes.
- E.A.D. – Supports the organization’s year-round baseball and life skills development program.
- La Amistad, Inc. – Provides flash cards and books for students to utilize during the school year and summer.
- Latin American Association – Will support the health and wellness component of the Latino Youth Leadership Academy.
- Lekotek of Georgia – Will provide children with limited mobility, access into the world of play using only eye movement.
- Lutheran Services of Georgia – Will support the week-long day camp experiences for refugee children impacted by trauma.
- Marietta Police Athletic League – Will fund the PAL EXCEL program designed to tackle the problems of childhood obesity and access to sports and recreation for low income families.
- Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School Athletic Boosters – will provide an indoor retractable batting cage system, a baseball L-screen, and batting tees for baseball and softball athletes.
- MUST Ministries – Will provide toys and essential winter items and school supplies during the holiday season for youth and families in Cobb and Cherokee counties.
- Piedmont Healthcare – Will support a low income family nutrition education program.
- Rally Foundation – the Family Emergency Fund will offers financial relief to families that have a child actively undergoing cancer treatment.
- Reach Out and Read – Children’s books will be provided in pediatric waiting rooms to encourage literacy.
- Reconnecting Families – will supply furniture, clothing, camps for children, and other basic household needs for disadvantaged families.
- Ser Familia – will fund the Strengthening Families program which focuses on parenting skills, children`s life skills and family skills.
- Special Olympics Georgia – Will help offset costs for youth to attend the Special Olympic Georgia State games.
- The Center for Children and Young Adults – Will provide dining tables and chairs for a youth shelter.
- The US Fund for UNICEF – will support the UNICEF Kid Power by engaging kids in the U.S. to help kids around the world by getting active and ultimately providing food for malnourished children.
- Tomorrow’s Champions – will provide opportunities for girls and to learn the fundamentals of softball and life skills.
- True Colors Theatre Company- will provide free in-school theatre arts workshops for high school students.
- Villages at Carver YMCA – Will use funds to support the youth baseball initiatives at the Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Academy.
- YWCA of NW Georgia – funds will support summer programming for the children in YWCA’s domestic violence shelter and transitional housing.
- Youth Empowering Through Leading, Learning, and Serving – the grant will cover the YELLS Community Action Cafe, Afterschool Program, and Summer Programs for youth.
- YWCA of Greater Atlanta – the funds will provide new materials for the Early Learning Academy.
As you can see, these organizations offer wonderful programs that will benefit a lot deserving young Braves fans. We are proud to be a part of making an impact in the lives of so many people. Congratulations to all of our 2015 Braves Foundation Grantees!
In 2015, the Atlanta Braves continued their partnership with Subway Restaurants and Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) to bring reading and healthy eating habits to students in grades K-12 throughout metro-Atlanta. In partnership with all of the public libraries in the state, we offered students a chance to earn free Braves tickets to home games along with a free Subway Restaurants “Fresh Fit for Kids” meal voucher during the 2015 season.
The Home Run Readers program is a web-based summer reading initiative to encourage students to read during their break from school. Students are then instructed to visit www.braves.com/reading and answer questions about the book they read. Upon completion, they received a certificate from their library with a code to redeem free Braves tickets online.
Throughout the summer, we visited six local libraries to promote the Homerun Readers initiative along with a very special guest, Homer, the Braves mascot. Braves staff were on site to distribute tomahawks, t-shirts, hats and more!
To celebrate the success of the program, all of the Home Run Readers were invited to a year-end “READ IN” with Braves players, Homer, the Cobb Library Cat and Library officials at Turner Field. Braves catcher Ryan Lavarnway and pitcher Andrew McKirahan read “Casey at the Bat” to more than 200 youth and their families. The players participated in a Q&A and spoke about their favorite books, baseball, healthy eating habits and the importance of reading. To close out the event, the Cobb library staff facilitated several fun rounds of “HOMER” Bingo that included common baseball terms like base runner, pinch hitter, pop fly, and many more! The winners received autographed Braves memorabilia promotional items.
Over 2,000 youth participated in our summer reading program. Special Thank you to Subway Restaurants for your continuous support.
Kudos to all of the Home Run Readers and keep up the good work!
In an effort to “strike-out bullying” in schools across Braves Country, we teamed up with the Anti-Defamation League and Braves alumni player Brian Jordan for our annual “No Place for Hate” Anti-Bullying Rally at Turner Field. This special pre-game event took place in our fan plaza for more than 500 students from across the state.
“No Place for Hate” is the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bulling initiative designed to rally schools around the goal of creating a welcoming community and stopping all forms of bias and bullying. We incorporated what “No Place for Hate” teaches in schools into our rally that evening and encouraged students to accept one another despite differences.
Brian Jordan kicked off the rally and spoke to the crowd about his childhood experiences dealing with bullies in school which led him to write his book, “Time Out for Bullies.” Brian gave out free copies of his book to the first 250 students.
Mark Moskowitz, ADL Regional Director, gave a brief overview of what they are doing in schools to prevent bullying and shared a little history about the ADL. Erin Beacham, ADL Education Director, led the group in an interactive game called “hands up” that showed the crowd exactly what they might have in common with people unlike themselves. She also led the participants in a “Stop Bullying” chant with the help of her friend, rap artist “Tropakana,” while the participants raised their posters with anti-bullying sayings. We closed out the rally with a selfie of Erin and all of the students.
To learn more about how your school can become a “No Place for Hate” school, please visit www.atlanta.adl.org/npfh. To purchase Brian Jordan’s Time Out for Bullies book, please
The Atlanta Braves teamed up with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund this season to host an Equipment Drive at Turner Field to benefit local youth baseball and softball organizations in the Metro Atlanta area. The drive took place August 15th-16th in Monument Grove prior to the Braves vs. Diamondbacks games. Fans who made donations received autographed photos of Braves players.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association that awards youth baseball and softball organizations with much needed equipment to conduct play in their community. Each year, the fund collaborates with MLB Clubs to host equipment drives at the stadiums where fans, front office staff and players are invited to donate new and used equipment to benefit local organizations.
This season, we are donating the equipment collected from this drive to two organizations: The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, and ATL Metro RBI. In addition to these equipment donations, both of these organizations are receiving a grant of $2,500 from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. These grants are designed for the sole purpose of helping these organization purchase baseball and softball equipment.
On Monday, August 24th, we hosted both of these grant recipients for an on-field presentation prior to the Braves vs. Rockies game. Coaches and players from both organizations were on-site to receive the grant checks.
We were very pleased to be able to help give back to the community in this capacity, in order to help strengthen and grow the opportunity for local youth to participate in the game. We are looking forward to similar opportunities in the future to help make a positive impact in our community.
In September, we hosted a special group of teens from the small town of San Bernardo del Viento in Colombia, South America. The youth were part of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sports Diplomacy initiative hosted by the Colombia Consulate of Atlanta and the Atlanta Braves.
The sports exchange program focuses on towns with a high rate of children recruited by illegal armed groups. The youth live in a town that has been affected for many years by the Colombian conflict. The sports diplomacy initiatives’ goal is to get children and adolescent to think of sports, culture, and arts as a life possibility and an opportunity to build a better future. This was the very first time these boys have ever left their small town and none of them spoke any English.
Upon arrival at Turner Field, The teens were treated to a behind the scenes tour. This was the 1st time for these boys in a Major League ballpark and they were in awe at each corner of the facility. For some, it was their first time stepping on an escalator and they seemed perplexed at the moving stairs. After their tour, the teens met with Braves players Pedro Ciriaco from the Dominican Republic, Christian Bethancourt from Panama, and Sugar Ray Marimon from Colombia. The players talked about their experiences living in the U.S., their youth baseball development, and they shared words of encouragement. After the meet and greet, the Colombian team enjoyed a traditional Atlanta meal… Chick-fil-A sandwiches, courtesy of the Braves 400 Club. With huge smiles on their faces, the youth proudly walked through Turner Field displaying their Colombian flags as they got ready to cheer on the Braves!
The following day, the Colombian youth participated in a friendly baseball game with FCA Urban Baseball lead by Brent Slate. Brent went above and beyond for the Colombian team. He arranged for both the US and Colombian national anthems to be played and well as lineup introductions. At the end of the game both teams exchanged gifts representative of their counties. Although, these two teams were unable to communicate verbally with each other, baseball brought them together. They cheered for one another, signed baseballs, hugged each other, and posed for group pictures.
On their final day in Atlanta, the Colombian team participated in the Braves and MLB’s Youth Baseball Clinic with more than 100 other youth baseball players. They learned fielding, pitching and hitting skills from Braves alumni including Alejandro Pena, Jose Alvarez, Marty Perez, Charlie Leibrandt, Dwight Smith, and Pete Smith. The alumni signed baseballs and took pictures with everyone and our friends from Delta Air Lines served as volunteers and interpreters for our Colombian guests.
Later that day, Braves starting pitcher and Colombian native, Julio Teheran, surprised the team before batting practice. The kids had been waiting to meet Julio all week! He answered all of their questions including his favorite American food, how he was able to adjust to the U.S., what he missed most about home and what advice he would give his 16 year old self. Julio signed autographs for the youth and posed for pictures. The teens stayed to watch batting practice and meet other Braves players then headed to their seats to catch their final Braves game before heading back to Colombia the next day.
Special thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia and the Consulate of Colombia in Atlanta for their partnership and for allowing us to host this special group of kids. We certainly hope this will be a lasting memory for our new friends and we look forward to seeing them again one day!
Once again Turner Field opened its gates to host the largest Naturalization Ceremony in the State of Georgia to celebrate Citizenship Day and Constitution Day on September 17. Each year, on this date, our country celebrates the signing of the U.S. Constitution and Americans are encouraged to reflect on what it means to be a U.S. Citizen.
In honor of Citizenship Day and Constitution Day, we hosted 500 candidates as they took the final step on their path to obtaining United States Citizenship. Candidates and their families lined up outside the gates of Turner Field bright and early and were greeted by Braves and United States Citizen Immigration Services (USCIS) staff as they entered the ballpark, many for the first time. Our candidates marveled at the green field and pulled out their cellphones to capture every moment. Many posed with our very own Lady Liberty, Homer the mascot posed for photos around the plaza, and at the sound of the bell, led the candidates to their seats.
USCIS Deputy Director, Joseph Kernan and Atlanta Field Director Brett Rinehart opened the ceremony and Braves President, John Schuerholz, gave a warm welcome and congratulations to everyone in attendance. In all, ninety-one countries were represented and each received a heartfelt cheer during the reading of each country. Mexico had the largest number of candidates with 31. As Mr. Kernan administered the Oath of Allegiance, there were tears of joy and lots of hugs throughout the audience. Braves bullpen coach, Eddie Perez, a newly naturalized citizen, lead the Pledge of Allegiance and at the conclusion, our newest citizens were congratulated by President Barack Obama, via video.
Our new Braves Fans who walked out with bright smiles on their faces and a Coke in hand thanks to our friends at Coca-Cola. Many stopped by the League of Women Voter’s booth to complete their first task as new citizens —- register to vote! This was truly a memorable moment for these new United States Citizens as well as the entire Braves organization.
Each season, we celebrate the lives of breast cancer survivors during the annual Braves Breast Cancer Awareness Day presented by WellStar Cancer Network and Kroger.
This year, for the first time, we were able to host this celebration of survivorship during October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Despite the unfortunate weather forecast, more than 200 fearless survivors helped us paint the park pink on Saturday, October 3.
In an effort to make a huge impact and raise more awareness than ever at Turner Field, we included all of Braves Country in the fight against Breast Cancer. When fans started arriving to the game on Saturday, they received exclusive, one-of-kind pink tomahawks, presented by WellStar, an “I Go Pink for…” placard for fans to insert the names of loved one affected by breast cancer, and a pink ribbon from GSU’s Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Fans also had the opportunity to sign and take photos in front of the “Braves Country Goes Pink for…” pink wall located in Monument Grove.
Our survivors started arriving Saturday afternoon in the sprinkling rain to check-in and receive their tickets and pink Breast Cancer Awareness Day shirt. To generate additional awareness, various breast cancer organizations including WellStar Cancer Network, American Cancer Society’s Making Strides against Breast Cancer, I Will Survive, Inc., Loving Arms Cancer Outreach, and Zeta Tau Alpha were stationed in Monument Grove distributing information to Braves fans about screenings, early detection, and support groups.
Once checked-in, all survivors along with their family and friends entered the gates and made their way to the Breast Cancer Survivor Celebration reception. where they had the chance to fellowship with one another.
At the reception, survivors heard encouraging words from our guest speaker and host Lauren Hudson. Lauren is an Emmy award-winning reporter, motivational speaker, and a breast cancer survivor. Lauren used her consistently inspiring and uplifting attitude to encourage the survivors, and even led everyone in a special version of Take Me out to the Ballgame! Georgia State Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler, who is also recent breast cancer survivor, gave a very inspirational speech about her journey and the importance of keeping a positive attitude during treatment. Crystal Mantooth from Making Strides spoke on behalf of the American Cancer Society’s efforts to raise money for breast cancer research at their upcoming Making Strides Walk.
We were honored to round out the program at the reception with a special announcement of our Diamond of Hope winners for this season. This special award honors survivors who have engaged in the fight against breast cancer or assisted other survivors through their difficult struggle. We selected 5 incredible survivors from different parts of Braves Country who were nominated by friends and family. The winners were: Michelle Hedman of Pensacola, FL, Rhonda Williams of McDonough, GA, Loretta Billingsley of Doraville, GA, Felicia Mahone of Union City, GA, and our very own Braves front office staff, retiree Brenda Hendricks, of Atlanta, GA. These five lovely ladies all received beautiful diamond-shaped awards presented by Braves outfielders Cameron Maybin and Nick Markakis, who have both been affected by breast cancer in their immediate families.
Once the reception came to a close, it was time for the most exciting part of the day, the survivor’s “Walk in the Park” and on field balloon release! All decked out in pink and with pink balloons in-hand, the survivors marched down the baselines led by the Braves wives including, Gabriella Perez, Chelsea Freeman, Bri Pugh, Lisa Castro, Keri Detwiler, and Camille Winkler. The survivors lined the base paths while the Zeta members created a ribbon around the pitcher’s mound, as a symbol of hope that a cure will be found and to remind the fans the importance of early detection. On the count of three, everyone released the pink balloons into the air. Fans “chopped out cancer” with their pink tomahawks as survivors hugged one another, cheered each other on and remembered those angels smiling down on us. This ceremony ended just in time for the grounds crew to rush the field with the tarp and just like that… the rain came falling down!
Although, we would have loved sunshine and clear skies for this special day, all survivors had a wonderful time and were able to attend a double header the next day! We are so grateful and thank you to all who made this possible Kroger, WellStar Cancer Network, American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, the Braves Players and Wives, our volunteers from the USO, Georgia State University, Fort Benning and friends and family who sacrificed their Saturday night for a wonderful cause!
In August, the Braves Wives hosted the “Favorite Things” auction, which is an annual event where the wives fill baskets full of their husbands’ favorite things to raise money for a charity of their choosing. The wives optioned to have all proceeds from their auction benefit Childhood Cancer research this year, raising more than $3,500.
In honor of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness month, we celebrated the lives and legacies of pediatric cancer survivors and fighters during Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. On September 13, we welcomed more than 200 children affected by pediatric cancer to Turner Field for a very special pre-game program. All proceeds from this event along with the money raised at the Wives auction benefited four nonprofits that raise awareness for pediatric cancer research, Rally Foundation, Camp Sunshine, CURE, and Curing Kids Cancer.
Participants started arriving early that Sunday morning to the ballpark to check-in and receive their tickets, commemorative “Going Gold” t-shirt and unique neon “Chop out Cancer” sunglasses. Once checked-in, all survivors/fighters along with their family and friends entered the gates and made their way to the Childhood Cancer Fighter/Survivor Celebration reception. More than 500 guests enjoyed complimentary snacks and refreshments and the opportunity to fellowship with one another. Children also got their faces painted compliments of the Braves and free Go-Go Squeeze Organic Applesauce.
At the reception, participants heard encouraging words from guest of honor and two-time Childhood Cancer Survivor, Taylor Scheibe. Taylor is a motivational speaker and entrepreneur from Jacksonville, FL. Her charity, With Love, donates toys to local hospitals and play rooms for children going through cancer treatment. After Taylor spoke, we recognized four extremely brave individuals on behalf of each organization who have survived cancer and been a light to the cancer community simultaneously. These honorees were deemed the “Diamond of Courage” award recipients and were presented their awards by Braves wives, Joanna Swisher, Jamie Lavarnway, and Gabby Perez. The following children were honored:
Madie Ice was selected on behalf of the Rally Foundation for her contagious smile and positive attitude during chemotherapy. CURE chose Grace Bunke as their award recipient because of her perseverance and positivity moving forward after having a leg amputation from cancer. Montana Brown was selected on behalf of Camp Sunshine for beating cancer twice at a young age and going on to study nursing at Georgia Regents College in hopes of being a pediatric nurse. Our only boy representative came from Curing Kids Cancer. Reece McPhail was chosen by his organization for his willingness to help others during his cancer treatments and for being an advocate for childhood cancer research through drives and fundraisers.
Once the audience gave our award recipients another round of applause, the reception came to a close and families and friends started lining up for the on-field parade. As the survivors and their families paraded around the field, many groups held and released gold balloons in honor of those lost in the pediatric cancer battle. Once the parade was over and game time was drawing closer, Braves Wives, Gabby Perez, Joanna Swisher, Chelsea Freeman, and Jamie Lavarnway joined the four Diamond of Courage award recipients and their nonprofit organization leaders on the third baseline for a special on-field ceremony and check presentation. Combined efforts by the Braves wives and fan donations, the Atlanta Braves Foundation was able to cut a check for $5,000 to Childhood Cancer research.
To round out the day’s festivities, nine children were selected to “take the field” with the starting lineup that day. The crowd gave a standing ovation to the kiddos as they ran out to the positions and waited for their favorite major league player to join them at their position. The following kids were chosen by their organization to participate in this activity: Mary Tipton Carter, Drew Kruszynski, and Audrey Arrowood on behalf of Rally, Elijah Ligon and Connor Meadows on behalf of CURE, Colton Moore and Josh Mack on behalf of Curing Kids Cancer, and Emmalee Watkins and Matthew McMahon on behalf of Camp Sunshine. Childhood cancer survivor, MaKayla Jefferson yelled “Play Ball!” on the field indicating it was time for some Braves baseball!
This is the start of something really beautiful for Childhood Cancer Awareness in the sports industry! We look forward to making this event bigger and better every year until we find a cure. We want to say a HUGE thank you to our beneficiary organizations who worked hard to help make this event go off without a hitch and another big thank you to our Braves Wives who raised so much money for such a wonderful cause!