Pitching in for the Holiday Season

This Halloween, Braves front office staff members visited the students at Jacob’s Ladder Neurodevelopmental School and Therapy Center as part of the Braves Care employee volunteer initiative. Jacob’s Ladder is an accredited private school which serves students Pre-K through 12th grade with  neurological disorders from down syndrome, cerebral palsy, brain injury, learning disabilities and genetic disorders.

We helped some of our new friends create candy corn paintings using homemade paintbrushes and we surprised each child with a Halloween themed goodie bag filled with small toys and school supplies. After everyone finished with their paintings, we delivered Braves baseball caps and Tomahawks to the children in the school that were unable to participate in the arts and craft project.

After meeting each child at the school, Braves volunteers were treated to a tour of the Jacob’s Ladder facility which includes a goat farm, chicken coup, and a bunny cage! It is truly an inspirational place for students to call their own, and we can’t wait to see our friends at Jacob’s Ladder in the future.

In celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the Braves Care employee volunteer initiative also visited the City of Refuge to serve lunch to the residents and students at the on-site school, Bright Futures Atlanta Academy.

The Braves have supported the City of Refuge and their efforts for years, and we love to go visit and see the difference that they have made in our community. The City of Refuge is a non-profit organization dedicated to community development efforts that lead to the stability and sustainability of the local community. Their services span multiple areas of need – from food, clothing and shelter to job training, placement, housing, healthcare and education.

One group of volunteers worked in the City of Refuge 180 Kitchen where they served lunches to the women and children that were on-site during lunch hours. We got the chance to interact and eat lunch with the residents. The other group of volunteers visited the on-site private school, Bright Futures Atlanta Academy, a Christian-based, year-round program academy that offers after-school programming during the school year and camp during the summers. This unique school is focused on helping inner-city, at-risk children by providing them with the spiritual, educational, and family support that will help them become productive members of society and role models to their peers. Braves staff visited the school, got a tour of the colorful facility, served lunch to the students and engaged in a fun teamwork activity.

Overall, it was the perfect way for the Braves front office staff to give back to our community during the Thanksgiving season!

BLUE Crew Giving Back in a Big Way

A professional sporting event is just the ticket to strengthen a mentor/youth match. The MLB umpires offer memorable baseball experiences for children through the UMPS Care Charities BLUE Crew Tickets program. Since its beginning in 2006, these charitable umpires have hosted more than 6,000 children and their mentors at games across the 32 ballparks.

This season, the Atlanta Braves facilitated four UMPS Care events with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, a mentoring organization that serves over 3,390 youth in Metro Atlanta. The organization pairs children and their families with caring adults that can provide strong and encouraging friendships that impacts children’s lives for the better.

The honored guests were greeted with goodies bags filled with Braves swag and snacks courtesy of the Braves and UMPS Care Charities. The guests were given a short behind-the-scenes tour through the Braves tunnel and escorted to meet the umpires on the field before game time.

On the field, the umpires showed them their positions during the game, answered questions and discussed the favorite parts of their jobs as well as the difficulties. Each visit culminated with a group photo on the field and a quick trip to the umpire tunnel to take a look at the instant-replay booth.

Many thanks to the MLB umpires for taking the time to treat the “bigs and littles” to a priceless, one-of-a-kind experience and a different side of baseball!

Braves Breast Cancer Awareness Day Diamond of Hope Honoree: Spotlight on Kathi Shepherd

During our annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day Celebration in September, we presented the Diamond of Hope Award to five empowering women who have engaged in the fight against breast cancer and have assisted other survivors through their difficult struggle.  We will be highlighting these incredible ladies throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month and sharing their stories with you.

Kathi Shepherd from Columbia, SC,  has risen above the challenges put before her during her fight against Breast Cancer, and has been cancer free for four years.  She gave up her teaching job to become a motivational speaker and help inspire others going through their own struggles with breast cancer. She works every day to support those going through similar battles that she once fought. 

Kathi was kind enough to answer some questions for us in a recent interview and provide us with photos that represent her courageous journey. Read more about Kathi below:

When were you diagnosed? July 2, 2010

What is your occupation? Former teacher and now I am a motivational speaker and writer.

Where in the world are you the happiest? Disney World.

What do you do in your spare time? Take my Pet Therapy Certified dog to hospitals and nursing homes to visit with patients.

What is one thing you wish people knew about you? I love camping, fishing and kayaking with my family.  I’m also a huge college football fan and can often be found on Saturdays attending a game!

Who has been your biggest support system through your journey? My 13 year old daughter Callie has sat through 7 surgeries, 25 rounds of infusion chemo, managed my chest drains, given me shots, traveled to cancer institutes all over the country with me for treatments. She is my rock! LAUGHTER HAS BEEN THE KEY INGREDIENT TO MY HEALING PROCESS. :)

What keeps you going through this period? My faith in Jesus knowing that He has a plan for me and loves me. I trust that He is in control and He will take care of me. The power of faith allows me to see the invisible and unbelievable to receive the impossible.

What is your favorite inspirational quote? “If God is for you, who can be against you” –Romans 8:31

How have you grown during this journey? I have grown tremendously with my faith and compassion for others. I had to learn how to humbly receive instead of always giving and serving. Prayers are truly felt and give me strength in my times of weakness!

Do you have any inspirational words of advice for others going through recovery? God made me be still so I could strengthen my relationship with Him. Others find joy in helping so let them! Ask the American Cancer Society for local resources in monetary assistance, meal delivery, and support groups. My breast buddies are my life line now! Go Pink!

Congratulations Kathi on receiving the Diamond of Hope Award! We wish you the very best and encourage you to continue inspiring others along their journey. 

Braves and the Atlanta Community Food Bank Strikeout Hunger

During this season, the Atlanta Braves and Kroger partnered to host a series of hunger awareness food drives to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  Founded in 1979, the Atlanta Community Food Bank procures over 45 Million pounds of food and groceries each year and distributes it to over 600 hunger relief programs in 29 Metro Atlanta and North Georgia Communities.

Every Friday night at Turner Field, Braves fans donated canned food or made monetary donations in support of the Atlanta Community Food Bank and received an autograph from a current Braves player or alumni. This season’s  participants included Phil Niekro, Mark Wohlers, Marquis Grissom, Leo Mazzone, Ramiro Pena, David Carpenter, Kris Medlen, David Hale, Aaron Harang, Cory Gearrin, and Craig Kimbrel.

Thanks to our Braves fans, players, and alumni in supporting this important initiative resulting in 1,145 pounds of food and $4,300 in monetary donations.

Thank you Braves Country for supporting our efforts in eradicating hunger in the state of Georgia. If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, please visit acfb.org.

Braves 400 Club Facilitate Special Visits for Deserving Braves Fans

The Braves 400 Fan Club is a non-profit organization of Braves fans dedicated to supporting the game of baseball at all levels for the past 40 years. These special members of our Braves family volunteer at numerous community events throughout the year and love giving back to Braves Country.

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Some of the incredible members of the Braves 400 Club

Every year, the Braves 400 Club purchases tickets for well-deserving, disadvantaged youth baseball fans in the Metro Atlanta area to attend Braves games throughout the season. Each month, the members invite an organization to come experience batting practice before the game, meet and greet the Braves players and enjoy dinner complimentary of Chick-fil-A.

To kick off baseball season, we invited Calvary Children’s Home to join us at Turner Field for this unique experience. Calvary Children’s Home, located in Powder Springs, GA, provides a safe, loving Christian environment for children needing placement apart from their families. They were treated to a visit by pitcher Aaron Harang during batting practice, who posed for pictures and signed autographs. Most of these children have never seen a professional baseball game, but have been Braves fans their whole lives.

La Amistad visited Turner Field in May for a 400 Club experience. La Amistad’s mission is to support Latino students and their families by providing a comprehensive support system through tutoring, mentoring, and resources. All of the kids received Greg Maddux bobbleheads and got to meet pitchers Shae Simmons and Pedro Beato, who posed for pictures and signed autographs. The chaperones whom accompanied these kiddos to the game all sponsor these well-deserving children in the La Amistad summer camp program as well as tutor them weekly at different Metro Atlanta locations.

In June, we were visited by the Marquis Grissom Baseball Association. Founded in 2006 by Marquis Grissom, MGBA is a non-profit organization that provides young athletes in underserved communities the opportunity to participate in a competitive baseball league. These young athletes, with hopes and dreams of one day becoming professional baseball players, watched the Braves take batting practice got the chance to a number of Braves players including Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward, B.J. and Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, and Tommy La Stella, along with first base coach, Terry Pendleton. What a memorable moment. Not only did they see a Braves win over the Marlins, but they had the opportunity to meet some of their role models from the Atlanta Braves!

In August, the 400 Fan Club welcomed about 30 youth chaperoned by police officers from the Police Athletic League (PAL). PAL is a non-profit, public benefit corporation whose mission is to provide a safe environment for youth to reach their full potential through partnerships with the police and community utilizing athletics and other programs. Braves infielder, Ramiro Pena, signed autographs during batting practice then it was off to their seats to enjoy a fun evening of Braves baseball!

For the final “Reach Out, Be Our Guest” event of the 2014 season, and in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Braves 400 Fan Club welcomed ten incredible young cancer warriors and their families from the Rally Foundation to Turner Field. Rally Foundation was established nine years ago in response to a mother’s call for help to raise money for childhood cancer research and fund the best cancer research available. Since 2005, Rally Foundation has given more than $5.25 million in research grants, funding 75 cutting-edge projects across the country. Braves pitcher Kris Medlen, one of the local spokespersons for Rally Foundation, sat in the bleachers with the children and their families during batting practice. Kris posed for numerous pictures, signed autographs, and talked with the kids, letting them sit on his lap and try on his glove!

What an amazing season for our community outreach efforts with our lovely 400 Club members. Children met their heroes, enjoyed their first Braves game, and had the time of their lives! We owe a huge thank you to the Braves 400 Club who funded these incredible events and to Chick-fil-A who graciously donated dinner for all youth participants and their chaperones. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

Baseballs, Bats, and Gloves… Oh My!

This season, we teamed up with RaceTrac to collect gently used baseball and softball equipment as part of Major League Baseball’s annual Baseball Tomorrow Fund Equipment Drive. This initiative benefits disadvantaged youth baseball and softball organizations that lack the necessary equipment to successfully participate in the game.

We called on Braves third baseman Chris Johnson for a little help to spread the word throughout Braves Country. Chris served as the 2014 Baseball Tomorrow Fund player ambassador and used his Twitter page to promote the collection dates. With his assistance, we were able to collect hundreds of bats, gloves, helmets, bags, uniforms and other essential baseball equipment for deserving organizations in the Metro Atlanta area.

Through the four monthly collections that went hand-in-hand with the RaceTrac Nights at Turner Field, we were able to collect over 1,000 pounds of equipment from Braves fans.

After the final collection date, we hosted a special on-field presentation to recognize RaceTrac for their support and the equipment drive recipients, the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. Baseball Tomorrow Fund also presented the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta with a $5,000 check to use on their youth baseball and softball programs. Chris Johnson, Billy Milam, COO of RaceTrac, Melanie Bolch Isbill, RaceTrac Director of Marketing, and Kathi Bradley of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund were all present for this special on-field ceremony.

The following week, we made a special visit to the Samuel L. Jones Boys and Girls Club to drop off the donated equipment. Kristi Morris, RaceTrac Community Marketing Manager, and Justin Nix, RaceTrac Store Manager, joined us as we brought smiles to a lot of young faces who were excited and looking forward to playing baseball or softball with their new equipment. The remaining equipment was donated to the Atlanta Police Athletic League, Dekalb Police Athletic League, Carver YMCA, Creekside High School and Forrest Park High School.

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As you can see, these equipment drives allowed Braves Country to show their support for youth sports by giving many kids the opportunity to play this great game of baseball and look good doing it!

Making an Impact at D.H. Stanton Elementary

The Atlanta Braves established a long term partnership with Daniel H. Stanton Elementary dating back to 2004. D.H. Stanton is located just around the corner from Turner Field in the Peoplestown neighborhood. Each year, we meet with faculty and staff to plan activities in an effort to motivate, reward, and improve the quality of education for the students. We specifically target the areas of reading, physical activity, decreasing absenteeism and increasing parent participation.

We enjoyed planning a variety of activities for the students, teachers, and parents throughout the school year. In the spring, we welcomed the graduating 5th grade class to Turner Field for lunch, a tour of the stadium, and a chance to sharpen their batting and pitching skills in Scout’s Alley. Daphne Lipson, an outstanding 4th grader, was recognized prior to the Braves vs. Oakland Athletics game during the Chick-fil-A All Star Student Achiever presentation for academic excellence. Additionally, we surprised the staff with breakfast and tickets to a Braves game during Staff Appreciation Week.

Oakland Athletics v Atlanta Braves

To kick off the 2014-15 school year, the Braves and Delta Air Lines employees joined forces for a “Braves Give” Saturday community volunteer project and assisted teachers in preparing their classrooms for the first day of school. The volunteers designed and decorated bulletin boards throughout the school, worked with the teachers to organize books and folders, cleaned classrooms, and created welcome back goodie bags for more than 200 students.

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Our support for the students and teachers continued through our partnership with Arrow Exterminators as we hosted a school supplies drive at Turner Field and at local Arrow Exterminators locations. Together our staff created gift baskets with the items collected and delivered them to the classrooms. Each classroom was gifted with items including staplers, paper, pencils, folders, erasers, glue, crayons, markers, calculators, and much more. Our staff volunteers delivered the baskets to each classroom and took time to read to the younger students and talked to the 4th and 5th graders about college and careers.

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In an effort to engage the parents, we are partnering with Goodwill of North Georgia to host a Career Workshop on November 5th. The workshop participants will receive guidance on resume building, interviewing skills, and professional image enhancement.

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Over the years, we have truly enjoyed our partnership with D.H. Stanton Elementary and we are always thinking of creative and unique ways to give back to youth in the Turner Field community. Through the Braves staff, players, fans and our corporate partners like Delta Air Lines and Arrow Exterminators we were able to make an impact and look forward to continuing this tradition for many years to come!

Atlanta Braves Foundations Grants a Record $300,000 to Local Non-profits

The Atlanta Braves Foundations is committed to giving back to the community. Since its establishment in 1992, the Braves Foundation has provided support to thousands of Atlanta-based organizations and has contributed more than $5.6 million in monetary and in-kind assistance to the community.

We raise these funds through various fundraisers during the season such as 50/50 Raffle, Foundation Weekend, silent auctions, online auctions, golf tournaments and luncheons. It’s because of our Braves fans, players and sponsors supporting all of these activities, that we are able to make a significant donation back into the community.

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 need of funding.

During the last week of the season, the Braves Foundation awarded more than $300,000 in grants to 40 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. Take a few minutes to read about our 2014 Atlanta Braves Foundation Grant Recipients.

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  1. Alive Ministries will purchase and donate food and toiletries to children and families in need within the Cobb County School District.
  2. Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region will use funds to support the “No Place for Hate” anti-bullying initiative.
  3. Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta will integrate healthy living values into an edible landscape community garden at Anderson Boys & Girls Club.
  4. Camp Sunshine will enrich the lives of Georgia’s children with cancer and their families through year round recreational, educational and support programs.
  5. Center for Children & Young Adults will provide funding for bed frames and dressers for Another Chance, a 20 bed youth shelter.
  6. Center for Working Families will provide arts, beautification and education projects for parent and child living in neighborhood planning unit V.
  7. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will purchase motion analysis equipment to help prevent injuries in young athletes.
  8. Christian Aid Mission Partnership will provide backpacks filled with school supplies to needy families in Cobb County.
  9. CHRIS Kids will provide Trauma kits to relieve stress for children in traumatic situations.
  10. City of Refuge will provide nutrition education, dance, and soccer to 50 homeless and at risk youth.
  11. Cobb Alcohol Taskforce will utilize peer leadership support and training to curb underage drinking through the Cobb Youth Rise program.
  12. Cobb Health Futures Foundation will support the media smart youth program that educates youth on media, physical activity and nutrition.
  13. Cobb Library Foundation will build designated teen centers for youth ages 12-19 to read, study and meet.
  14. Cobb Police Athletic League will provide registration fees, uniforms and equipment for youth.
  15. Cobb County Public Schools Education Foundation will focus on college-readiness preparation by proving tutorial and counseling for SAT/ACT exams and college planning during an after-school enrichment program.
  16. Community Advanced Practices Nurses will provide healthcare for homeless and low-income children.
  17. CURE Childhood Cancer – will fund the Open Arms program that provides patients and family services for children with cancer.
  18. East Lake Foundation will support the Charles R. Drew after-school program.
  19. Everybody Wins! Atlanta will provide a reading power lunch for students and volunteers at Dunbar Elementary School.
  20. Foster Siblings Reunited, Inc. will provide summer camp opportunities for siblings who have been separated in foster care the system.
  21. Fragile Kids Foundation will provide specialized medical equipment for children with disabilities.
  22. Girls on the Run of Atlanta will provide scholarships for young girls to participate in running programs that also focus on healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
  23. Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation will help fund the WOW! Program which provides memorable vacations for families dealing with cancer.
  24. Latin American Association will fund a program that helps Latino youth succeed in school and advance to higher education.
  25. L.E.A.D. will support the organization’s year-round baseball and life-skills development program for middle and high school students in Atlanta.
  26. Kamp Kizzy will support the Kamp Kizzy summer camp mentoring initiative for teen girls.
  27. Kutz for Kids will provide after school mentoring support for middle and high school students.
  28. Lutheran Services of Georgia will provide basic necessities to set up homes for refugee children.
  29. Make-A-Wish Georgia will grant special wish experiences to children with life threatening illnesses.
  30. Marietta Police Athletic League will provide ports clinics and transportation for disadvantaged youth to participate in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf, tennis, volleyball, martial arts.
  31. Marietta YELLS will launch a community library support healthy living through monthly teen-led community dinners.
  32. Muscular Dystrophy Association will fund medical supplies and costs for children to attend MDA Summer Camps.
  33. National Coalition of 100 Black Women, NW Georgia will support the High School to Heels program for teen girls.
  34. Special Olympics Georgia will help offset costs for youth to attend the Special Olympic Georgia State games.
  35. Ten Women of Hope will provide emergency assistance for single women with children including rent, utilities, medication, car repairs or other basic needs.
  36. The Brian Jordan Foundation will support Camp Jordan, a free baseball clinic for more than 200 disadvantaged children.
  37. Tomorrow’s Champion will provide opportunities for girls to learn the fundamentals of softball and life skills.
  38. Urban League of Greater Atlanta will award college scholarship opportunities to high school students.
  39. Villages of Carver Family YMCA will use funds to support the youth baseball initiatives at the Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Academy.
  40. YWCA of Northwest Georgia, Inc. will provide summer camp opportunities for children of domestic violence victims.

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 As you can see, there are so many great programs out there that will benefit a lot deserving children. We are proud to be a part of making an impact in the lives of so many people. Congratulations to all of our 2014 Braves Foundation Grantees!

If your organization is interested in receiving funding through the Atlanta Braves Foundation Grant program, please visit braves.com/grants in April, 2015 to apply.

Braves Breast Cancer Awareness Day Diamond of Hope Honoree: Spotlight on Diana Galloway

During our annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day Celebration in September we presented the Diamond of Hope Award to five empowering women who have engaged in the fight against breast cancer and have assisted other survivors through their difficult struggle.  We will be highlighting these incredible ladies throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month and sharing their stories with you.

Diana Galloway from Fayetteville, Georgia was kind enough to answer some questions for us in a recent interview and provide us with several photos taken throughout her courageous  journey. Read more about Diana below:

Name: Diana Galloway   

Age: 54

Occupation: Retired Flight Attendant 

Where in the world are you the happiest? My parents are from Barbados, West Indies. I feel so connected to my heritage when I am there amongst my ancestors. It is so calm, relaxing and everyone is happy. It is known as the happiest island in the world.

What is one thing that you wish everyone knew? I have always wanted to be Oprah Winfrey’s best friend. Secretly in my head, I am.

What do you do in your spare time? I love to cook, travel, plan family time and enjoy a good comedy movie and some popcorn. I travel some when I am not so busy saving the world.

Where are you from? I was born in Manchester England and grew up Brooklyn, New York

When were you diagnosed: November 11, 2011

Who has been your biggest support system through your journey? My husband was there every step of the way. He changed bandages, drained my tubes and even carried my purse. He would sit in the waiting room and joke with the other husbands about having to carry their wives handbags. His sister even wrote a beautiful poem about him called the Purse Carrier. Alongside my husband was my children and grandchildren. I had to keep a brave front for them because I could see the fear on their faces.

What kept (or keeps) you going through this period? Staying busy with establishing the Atlanta Southern Region of  Sisters Network and my quest to making sure no woman has to go through this journey alone. Everyone kept telling me that I needed to rest and take it easy, but doubt, fear and depression would consume me. I had to stay busy and focused. After my first of 10 surgeries, I opened a thrift store which was the beginning of my ministry to help and serve women. I met so many survivors who needed help, and I was constantly giving them some type of assistance. So then, I came up with a way to do something that could provide assistance to women in treatment who needed financial assistance.

Your favorite inspirational quote? “People will forget what you do, people will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you make them feel.” -Maya Angelou

How have you grown during your journey? I’ve learned that life can change for you in the blink of an eye. No matter what happens, you cannot let your emotions get in the way. Don’t take it personal. God puts you through situations to teach you, so you can grow and learn.

Do you have any inspirational words of advice for others going through recovery? It could always be worse. God saves his toughest battles for his strongest soldiers. Fight with all your might.

Diana truly is a soldier in the fight against Breast Cancer. She is the president of the Atlanta Southern Region affiliate Chapter of Sisters Network, Inc., an organization committed to increasing local and national attention to the devastating impact that breast cancer has in the African American community. She works every day to support those going through similar battles that she once fought. Diana is one of five honorees of the Diamond of Hope Award, all whom we will be highlighting this month as we honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

 

Miracle League Mondays at Turner Field

The Atlanta Braves teamed up with the Miracle League to give a very special group of children the chance to rub elbows with “big leaguers” during batting practice every Monday during baseball season – also known as “Miracle League Monday.”

The Miracle League provides unique opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball, regardless of their abilities by removing barriers that keep them off the baseball field and lets them experience the joy of America’s favorite pastime.

During every Monday home game, we hosted Miracle League families from all over Braves Country during batting practice and allowed them the opportunity to watch the Braves players warm up and get ready for that evening’s game.

Upon their arrival, each family was greeted with goody bags filled with Braves swag and escorted on a short tour of ballpark before heading down to the field for batting practice. Our special guests observed batting practice from a VIP area where they enjoyed an inside look at some of their favorite professional athletes prepare for the game. With this exclusive access, the families were able to take photos, get autographs from their favorite players and in some cases, take home game used equipment that was personally given to them by some of the Braves superstars. You can probably imagine the excitement felt not only by the child, but the entire family.

At the end of their batting practice experience, the families headed up to their seats where they were able to enjoy the game and magic of Turner Field.

Thank you to all of our Miracle League Families that participated this year! We look forward to meeting more of the inspiring Miracle League athletes during the 2015.

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