To kick off Armed Forces Month, we dedicated our Braves Care front office volunteer event to our friends in the military by serving lunch at the USO of Georgia and by collecting items for troops returning home from overseas.
On Friday, May 1, we started our day off at the USO of Georgia facility at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport preparing for the arrival of new soldiers returning home from basic training. The USO of Georgia is a private, nonprofit organization that provides morale, welfare and recreation services to military personnel and their families. They are open every day for soldiers who are passing through the Atlanta airport to stop in and have a hot meal and a quiet place to regroup. Every Friday, the USO anticipates the arrival of a few hundred brand new soldiers from Fort Benning in Columbus, GA headed to their next destination. These young men and women spend 14 weeks at basic training with little to no interaction with the outside world.
We were so excited when the first bus arrived that Friday morning from basic training, as we waited for them with “Welcome Home” signs. It was evident that they had not had access to electronics or the simplest things like caffeine as they rushed off the buses and straight to the newsstands in the airport to grab a soda and snacks. As we caught up with them, we directed them upstairs to the USO facility where Braves front office staff and Braves alumni, Johnny Estrada, were serving sandwiches for lunch. Johnny was happy to sign autographs for all of the service men and women and visit with them while they readjusted to civilian life.
As the facility filled up with young gentlemen in their dress blues, we unleashed another surprise on them… Braves player Jonny Gomes would also be joining them for lunch. Gomes accompanied by his wife Kristi, who happens to be a from military family, signed autographs and took photos. Many of the soldiers gathered in the USO conference room with Gomes and Estrada for a Q&A. The Gomes’ even delivered the cutest thank you cards for the soldiers that their kids made at home!
This was one of the most fun and rewarding Braves Care events, as we got to talk to and serve so many truly courageous young men.
In celebration of Armed Forces Month, that weekend we collected items outside of the ballpark for the USO to use at their facility. Fans brought everything from paper products and utensils to fruit snacks and granola bars. The USO uses all of these items to serve soldiers when they stop in on their journey either back home from deployment or to their next post from basic training.
We have the pleasure of partnering with the USO on different occasions throughout the year through our military outreach efforts, and we always enjoy working with them. For more information about how you can get involved in the USO’s outreach efforts, visit www.usogeorgia.org.
The first week of Braves Caravan was super exciting and loads of fun, and it was just a warm up to what was to come in week 2! Here’s an exciting overview of the second week in our two-week Caravan journey.
Monday, January 26 – Hudson K-8 Anti-Bullying Rally – Birmingham, AL
Week 2 of Caravan took us to west to Birmingham, Alabama to visit students at the Hudson K-8 School. We partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to host a “No Place for Hate” anti-bullying rally with 100 middle school students. Braves players Andrelton Simmons, Ian Thomas, and Ross Wilson shared their thoughts on the importance of accepting one another and finding common interests with their classmates. They also answered questions from the students on teamwork, peer pressure, and goal setting. The rally concluded with the Braves players signing a “No Place for Hate” banner in which they pledged to do their part to combat prejudice, hate or ignorance and make our community a safer place. To conclude the visit, each class in attendance got to take a photo with the Braves players to remember this extremely special visit to their school. We are planning to host another anti-bullying rally at Turner Field this season as part of our ongoing partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and in hopes of striking out bullying in schools all over Braves Country.
Tuesday, January 27 – Norcross Elementary School – Norcross, GA
Norcross Elementary School received a surprised visit from the Braves Country Caravan. Braves players Tyrell Jenkins and Lucas Sims paraded the halls of Norcross Elementary where students were decked out in Braves spirit wear, from hats and face paint to hand-painted Braves t-shirts. The Braves players ended their tour of the school in the gym where they interacted with 3rd – 5th graders who rotated through fitness activity stations. Students showed off their baserunning skills at the running station, took some hacks in the simulated batting cages, and tested their arms at the throwing station. Once the fitness unit concluded, the players answered questions from students who wanted to know how they stay active and physically fit during the offseason. While the “big kids” were in the gym, the Kindergarten thru 2nd grade classes enjoyed an interactive reading activity with Tomahawk Team and our mascot Homer. Students listened carefully to a story about Braves legend Hank Aaron’s life and answered questions about the book. Students who answered correctly were rewarded with a Braves bumper sticker and Tomahawk. In all, this was such a fun stop along the Caravan adventure. We were able to see a lot of students and teachers and get our fans excited about the Braves season to come!
Wednesday, January 28 Baptist Health South Hospital – Montgomery, AL
Back on the bus we went on as we ventured back to Alabama to visit patients at the Baptist Health South hospital in Montgomery. Braves players Tyrell Jenkins and Braeden Schlehuber along with Braves coach Bo Porter and alumni Ryan Klesko went room to room to bring smiles to the faces of children and adult patients. Each patient got an autographed hat from the players and coach along with a Braves t-shirt and Tomahawk. We were happy to see a number of ecstatic fans throughout the hospital, as our mascot Homer caused mass excitement per usual.
Thursday, January 29 – Ron Clark Academy – Atlanta, GA
Next we stopped by the always-spirited and extremely energetic Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta! When the players Christian Bethancourt, Cedric Hunter, Phil Gosselin, alumni Javy Lopez, Marquis Grissom, Charlie Liebrand, and Coaches Bo Porter and Terry Pendleton exited the bus, they were greeted by an enthusiastic welcoming committee. They walked into a very unorthodox library, complete with a bungee trampoline in the center, where students were dancing and singing to top 40 hits. From there, Ron Clark welcomed the group and introduced the players to some all-star students who would be guiding them on a school tour. It would be nearly impossible to describe the incredibly designed facility that Ron Clark and close to 100 students call home. The players enjoyed the school tour, catching glimpses of the breathtaking and stimulating learning environment. They visited the newest building inspired by Harry Potter, where they popped in on Ron’s math class and saw the mastermind at work. The students in the class were learning extremely difficult mathematics through song, and the Braves players were not shy to join in. By the end of the math lesson (themed around baseball), we played a little competition with big stakes. Liebrand’s team won, entitling him to push a special “red button.” See below for what happened when he pushed the button: (just a hint: Lopez and Pendleton danced on the tables to “Turn Down for What”)
Friday, January 30 – Bright Futures Academy – Atlanta, GA
We saved the best for last as we stopped by Bright Futures Academy in Atlanta, located on the City of Refuge campus, and focuses on changing the trajectory of many inner city youth’s scholastic goals. Braves players Shelby Miller, Chris Johnson, and Christian Bethancourt joined the student body of about 60 middle to high school students in their state of the art recreation facility for an extremely fun Friday full of activities. Players competed alongside the students in cornhole and four square games, threw batting practice to them in their full size batting cages, and taught them how to throw at a soft toss station. As the teens rotated from station to station, the competition seemed to get more fierce, especially with Chris Johnson ruling the four square court. Once the rotations were over, the players had one extra treat for the kids… a pizza party! Miller, Johnson, and Bethancourt all sported stylish hats and plastic gloves as they served pizza to the students. And then there was just one more surprise… an ice cream sundae bar! The players all made ice cream sundaes to order for the students after they finished eating their lunch. This was truly a fun way to end such an amazing two weeks!
After 11 days and thousands of miles covered traveling across Braves Country, it is easy to see why the Atlanta Braves have the best fans in all of baseball. The Braves Caravan was truly a unique experience for all that had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of it.
That wraps up Caravan 2015!
Each January, we visit fans all over Braves Country to get them excited about the upcoming Braves baseball season during the Braves Country Caravan presented by Academy Sports and Outdoors. On the 12 day journey across the southeast, the Braves Caravan themed tour bus gives fans and members of the community a unique experience to get close to Atlanta Braves players, coaches, alumni and broadcasters. In addition to stopping at Academy Sports + Outdoors locations to sign autographs, the journey consisted of several community outreach appearances at schools, hospitals, and a Habitat for Humanity build as we continued our mission to make a positive impact in the community.
Here’s an exciting overview of the first week in our two-week Caravan journey.
Tuesday, January 20 – B.E.S.T. Academy High School – Atlanta, GA
The 2015 Braves Country Caravan kicked off its’ first community stop at B.E.S.T. Academy High School in Southwest Atlanta. Atlanta Braves players Todd Cunningham, David Hale, Josh Outman, and Alex Wood spent their morning talking to the school’s baseball, football and basketball players about what it takes to become a successful professional athlete. The panel discussion was moderated by former Georgia Tech and Detroit Lions football player, Ryan Stewart. Students had the opportunity to ask the players several questions about how they got to the big leagues, why they chose baseball and obstacles they’ve had to overcome. We ended the visit with some Braves trivia and a group photo. We wish the best to our friends at B.E.S.T. as they start their spring baseball season!
Wednesday, January 21 – Mountain View Elementary School – Marietta, GA
The Braves Country Caravan stopped at Mountain View Elementary School in Marietta. Braves players Todd Cunningham, James Russell, Braeden Schlehuber, and Mountian View alum Stephen Janas started their visit by parading the halls where students were waiting to high-five them and cheer them on with homemade signs, Tomahawks, and Braves spirit wear.
Their journey around the school ended in the media center where the players joined two 2nd grade classes in completing a Jackie Robinson-themed scavenger hunt on iPads.
The Braves players then took over the Mountain View morning announcements to read a few hand-selected letters (one from each grade) that students had written in hopes of receiving a classroom visit. Braeden visited Juliet from Ms. Edwards’ 3rd Grade class, and she made him a special piece of artwork to take home. Stephen and James popped in Mr. Aumann’s 4th Grade class to visit with Matthew, a huge Braves fan! Sydney from Mrs. Somerville’s 5th Grade class got a special visit from Todd. The players visited the classrooms and answered questions about playing in the big leagues. Janas made sure to stop in and visit all of his former teachers including his mom, the school’s PE teach, while visiting his alma mater. This visit was certainly one that these students will never forget!
Thursday, January 22 – Habitat for Humanity Build – Atlanta, GA
The Braves bus rolled onto Clark Howard Lane to help build three homes for well-deserving families. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca joined players Jason Hursh, Mike Minor, A.J. Pierzynski, Joey Terdoslavich, and MLB Hall of Famer turned radio personality Don Sutton as they turned in their batting helmets for hard hats and bats for hammers. The group jumped right in to help cut 2x4s and nail on aluminum siding onto the homes. They also met with the matriarchs of the families who will be moving into their beautiful homes in early April, and presented them with Braves gift bags. These under construction homes are amongst six other Habitat-built homes on the street. Clark Howard Lane gets its name from syndicated radio talk show host Clark Howard, who has funded the building of over 50 Habitat homes in Atlanta. Howard was broadcasting live from the build site the day of our visit and even brought some of our guys on the air to talk Spring Training and season preparations. This visit was truly a unique opportunity for the Braves players and coaches to engage in hands-on community outreach. What a fun day!
Here’s a video from this special community service project:
Friday, January 23 – Drew Charter School – Atlanta, GA
5th grade students at Drew Charter School in Atlanta had a surprise visit from the Braves Caravan for a morning fitness unit in their brand new recreation center and gym. Braves players Craig Kimbrel, David Hale, Shae Simmons, Jason Hursh, and pitching coach Roger McDowell joined the kids at various physical activity stations including hula hooping, jump roping, jumping jacks, burpees, and dizzy bat racing in an effort to encourage students to be active. Each group moved from station to station after 2 minutes of activity while listening to fun music. After the fitness stations were completed, Braves broadcaster Don Sutton moderated a fitness themed Q&A session between the players and Drew Charter baseball team. Students asked the players and coach questions about their favorite healthy snacks and their secrets to staying in shape during the offseason. Our visit ended with a group photo of the Drew baseball team with their heroes, the Braves players.
Saturday, January 24 – Fullers Park Ribbon Cutting – Marietta, GA
On Saturday, we headed out to Cobb County for the ribbon cutting and dedication of the newly renovated baseball field at Fullers Park, home of the Eastside Baseball Association. This ribbon cutting marked the second of several field refurbishments gifted to Chipper Jones upon his retirement by the Atlanta Braves. Ed Mangan, the Braves Head Groundskeeper, had his work cut out for him, as he and his team worked diligently to re-grade the infield, laser-grade the field for proper drainage, rebuild the pitcher’s mound and install on-deck circles and new backstop netting.
Hundreds of Cobb County residents came out for the ceremony which included remarks from the Braves and Cobb Officials, a proclamation to the Braves from Cobb County Officials and a ribbon cutting. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, pitching coach Roger McDowell, players David Hale and Mallex Smith, and broadcaster Don Sutton were all in attendance. Braves Executive VP of Sales and Marketing, Derek Schiller spoke on behalf of the Braves organization and Chairman Tim Lee presented the Braves with a special proclamation. We look forward to visiting Fullers Park in the spring to see the Eastside Baseball teams in action!
This is just a recap of one of the two exciting weeks that we spent on the road as part of the Braves Country Caravan. Stay tuned to our blog to see the rest of our journey!
The “Spirit of Giving” continued as the Atlanta Braves and Academy Sports + Outdoors hosted a surprise Holiday Party for D.H. Stanton Elementary School 5th graders.
To kick off the festivities, the students were led by the Tomahawk Team and Homer from their classrooms to the surprise party where Braves and Academy employees greeted them to the tune of Frosty the Snowman. Braves Alumni players Alejandro Pena, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, and former Braves player and current first base coach Terry Pendleton joined the fun.
During the first half of the party, the students participated in arts and crafts projects, decorated ornaments, snowmen and wreathes. Meanwhile, Homer and his elves were getting ready for the big surprise. As the volunteers waited quietly behind closed doors, we gathered the students for a round of Christmas carols with the Tomahawk girls.
The students were then given specific instructions to yell on the count of three, “Open That Door!” Upon command, the double doors in the back of the room swung open and in came Homer, followed by 30 colorful, sleek Huffy bicycles.
The students screamed with excitement as the bicycles were rolled down the aisle one by one.
The Braves alumni players and staff presented each child with their very own bike and safety helmet courtesy of Academy Sports + Outdoors. The students immediately jumped on their bikes and peddled throughout the gymnasium, but not before hugging our Braves alumni and volunteers thanking them for the wonderful surprise.
The parents in attendance were grateful to see the joy in their children’s faces that left many of them speechless.
This year, Braves staff completed more than 3,000 community service hours in conjunction with our monthly Braves Care Employee Volunteer Initiative. We would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time this year to give back to our community in a variety of ways. Below is a recap of our community service projects.
In January, we visited the Atlanta Community Food Bank where we sorted cans and restocked the in-house grocery store with assistance from Braves alumni players, Brian Jordan and Marquis Grissom.
In March, the staff cleaned out their closets and donated clothes to the Atlanta Union Mission as a part of the Spring Cleaning Clothing Drive. We also visited the La Amistad After School Program to help the students celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with fun arts and crafts activities.
On April 22, Earth Day, we helped clean up the Piedmont Park Conservancy. We focused our efforts on the garden area where Piedmont Park hosts field trips and we were able to give the garden a mini makeover, as we left our mark on Piedmont Park!
During the month of May, we partnered with the USO to collect items from Braves staff and fans for soldiers returning home from overseas. This effort to help welcome the courageous men and women back to the states was an initiative we called “Support the Brave.”
In June, we celebrated the wounded veterans of the U.S. military by inviting them to Turner Field for an extremely special Braves Care event. Braves staff welcomed about 35 warriors from the Wounded Warrior project to the ballpark where they took a tour of Turner Field, ate lunch with Braves President John Schuerholz, and took batting practice on the field with staff and Braves alumni players.
Christmas came early in July for the kiddos at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta! We surprised patients with room to room visits by Braves players, coaches and wives distributing brand new toys collected by the Braves wives during their annual toy drive. Braves employees participated in fun games and crafts at the Zone, the indoor activity center at the hospital.
At the beginning of August, Braves and Delta Air Lines employees teamed up to get our partner DH Stanton elementary ready for the new school year. We painted, organized books, designed bulletin boards and decorated classrooms.
We spent quality time with our four legged friends in the community during the month of August. We got to play with dogs that are up for adoption at PAWS Atlanta, a no-kill animal shelter just east of the city. We walked the dogs, interacted with kittens, and built new picnic benches for potential adoptive parents.
In September, we helped our friends at DH Stanton Elementary School get excited for the new school year. Throughout the season we partnered with Arrow Exterminators to collect school supplies from Braves staff, fans at Turner Field and Arrow customers. We surprised the students and teachers with brand new supplies for their classrooms and also spent a little time reading to the students.
For our October activity we celebrated Halloween at Jacob’s Ladder Neurodevelopmental School in Roswell. We helped students create unique handmade candy corn paintings with homemade paint brushes and delivered Braves hats and tomahawks to students that were unable to take part in the activity.
In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we served lunch to the homeless at the City of Refuge and to the students at Bright Futures Academy.
We will round out the year with our December initiative, the Annual Angel Tree Project. We will partner with the Second Wind Dreams “Gift of Light” program and “adopt” senior citizens from a local nursing home. The seniors will be provided with holiday gifts to help make their spirits bright!
We want to thank all of Braves staff members that helped make the Braves Care events this year a huge hit! We are so grateful to have co-workers that are always eager to help out.
A special kudos to Terrence Willoughby and Elizabeth Jimenez for being our 2014 “ACE in the Community” Award Recipients for being the most active Braves Care employees in 2014!
Check out the gallery below for more 2014 Braves Care photos!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Every year, we celebrate the lives of breast cancer survivors during the annual Braves Breast Cancer Awareness Day presented by Wellstar Health System and Kroger. On Sunday, September 21, over 250 courageous and brave survivors helped us paint the park pink during a very special day at the ballpark.
Our survivors started arriving early that Sunday morning to the ballpark to check-in and receive their tickets, a pink Breast Cancer Awareness Day shirt, and their fabulous satin survivor sash. To further promote this initiative, American Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer distributed information to Braves fans about breast cancer screening and detection. Additionally, members of GSU’s Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority gave out pink ribbons to the fans at the gates. Many new friendships were made that day as some survivors came with their support groups and some even attended by themselves.
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. More than 500 guests enjoyed complimentary snacks and refreshments and the opportunity to fellowship with one another.
At the reception, survivors got the chance to hear some encouraging words from our guest speaker and host Lauren Hudson. Lauren is an Emmy winning reporter, motivational speaker and a breast cancer survivor. Not only was Lauren entertaining, but she was very honest as she talked about her battle with breast cancer, she was uplifting and delivered an inspiring message filled with optimism. Lauren even led everyone in a round of Take Me Out To The Ballgame!
Laura Taylor, Breast Nurse Navigator with WellStar Health Systems and Shari Henning with EVP with American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division also shared words of encouragement.
The most anticipated part of the reception was the announcement of the Diamond of Hope award winners. This extremely coveted award honors survivors who have engaged in the fight against breast cancer or assisted other survivors through their difficult struggle. With the help of the Braves Wives, we selected 5 incredible women from all over Braves Country who were nominated by friends and family. The winners were: Kathi Shephard of Lexington, South Carolina, Diana Galloway of Fayettville, GA, Stacy Franklin of Jonesboro, GA, Maggie Davis of Roswell, GA, and Juanita Williams of Decatur, GA. These five lovely ladies all received beautiful award momentos presented by Braves pitcher Craig Kimbrel, who came to the reception to spend a moment with all of the survivors.
Once the reception came to a close, it was time for the most exciting part of the day, the survivor “Walk in the Park” and on field balloon release! All decked out in pink, the survivors marched down to the field, received pink balloons and were then led onto the field by the Braves wives including, Tia Johnson, Anahi Peña, Leanna Floyd, Ashley Kimbrel, Nikki Russell, Gabriella Perez, Mariana Materan, Lisa Mendez. The survivors lined the outfield while the members of Zeta created a human breast cancer awareness 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. As you can imagine, there were a lot of hugs, cheers and even tears both on the field and in the stands.
This event brings inspiring women, and even men, from all over Braves Country to Turner Field every year for one purpose; to bring awareness to a life-altering disease that thousands of people struggle with every day. We were so honored to have the survivors with us on this special day to celebrate their survivorship. We wish all of our participants happiness and the best of health in their journeys and we look forward to see each and every one of them again next year!
Learn more about our Diamond of Hope Winners as we highlight them in upcoming blog posts during Breast Cancer Awareness month!
The Braves Wives invited 25 special military moms-to-be to Turner Field recently for an unforgettable baby shower to help them celebrate their upcoming journey into motherhood.
Thanks to Lennie Rubin with United Military Care, Inc. we were able to invite ladies from military bases all over the state of Georgia including Ft. Stewart, Ft. Benning, Robbins Air Force, Ft. Gordon and Georgia National Guard. Most of these women are married to brave men from different branches of the military, and two of our moms were both in the Navy. We also had one expectant mother give birth early and attend the shower with her five-day-old baby boy.
The eager young mothers and their guests arrived at Turner Field and were escorted to the 755 Club and directed into the private party where they were greeted by the Braves Wives and enjoyed a lavish buffet and beautiful three tier vanilla cake donated by Tommy Rhodes of Rhodes Family Bakery. The Braves Wives in attendance included Pam Gonzalez, Nikki Russell, Angie Fletcher, Theresa Tosca, Leanna Floyd, Ashley Kimbrel, Tia Johnson, Carman Walker and Gabriella Perez. Greer Howard, BravesVision host and a military wife/mom herself, served as emcee and Braves President John Schuerholz addressed the men and women in attendance, thanked them for their service to our country, and congratulated them on the pending arrival of their babies.
As they anxiously awaited the start of the shower, we wasted no time in getting the games started by asking each attendee to guess the number of diaper pins in the baby bottle. Each shower game had many great prizes at stake donated from wonderful companies, which brought out the competitive side in everyone.
First on the agenda was a baby word search and a celebrity baby name game. Winners were rewarded lovely gift bags filled with necessities to get them through the first few months of motherhood. Some of the prizes included Pediped baby footwear and giftcards, delightful luxury European Pacapod baby bags, and the cutest little baby wetsuit by Konfidence USA.
Next, Pam Gonzalez led the expectant mothers in a game where they were asked to guestimate how much toilet paper it would take to go around the mommy-to-be’s pregnant bellies. This game got a few husbands in trouble. The winner of this game walked away with the coveted Babyhome Eat highchair.
Next, the ladies joined the Braves Wives in a circle of chairs to play a baby shower favorite, “Pass the Dirty Diaper.” They passed around a diaper filled with chocolate pudding, to the rules of hot potato. When the music stopped, the woman holding the dirty diaper was removed from the game. As the circle got smaller, the competition got more heated and eventually dwindled down to two ladies. After the last round, a winner was named and she walked away with a Naturalmat Coco Mat crib mattress valued at $400.
In-between all of the fun shower games and activities, there were many raffle prizes to be won. All of the moms and theirs guests got the chance to win awesome prizes such as assorted items from MAM USA such as pacifiers, baby bottles and teethers as well as autographed Braves memorabilia.
Finally, the winner who guessed the correct number of diaper pins in the baby bottle at check-in was revealed and received a Duux Air Humidifier.
To round out the festivities, the Braves Wives presented each mom with large gift baskets filled with everything they will need to get them through the first couple of months after the babies are born. The gifts inside these beautiful baskets included: B.Box travel bibs and diaper wallets, Silikids silibibs, MAM feed and soothe bottle gift sets and pacifiers, Honest Company arrival sets, Target and Babies’R’Us gift cards purchases by the Braves Wives, Baby Blanket music CDs, Brian James Footwear giftcards, Konfidence baby swimwear and roll and go baby changers, and scrumptious chocolate chip cookies provided by Sensational Baskets and multiple boxes of Huggies diapers and wipes. Many of these gifts were secured through Hilary Abbott, CEO of Hilary Abbott Communications, Inc. and high profile publicist. You can find many of her clients in publications like People Magazine!
The shower ended just in time for some Braves baseball! The women and their guests all left their goodies with us while they enjoyed the magic of Turner Field. Overwhelmed with gratitude and all of their new precious goodies, the ladies were all very appreciative as they anticipate the new additions to their families.
This event was very successful in large part to the Braves Wives and our amazing partners who donated tons of great items for us to use as raffle prizes and gift basket goodies. A big thank you to our donors:
- Atlanta Braves Wives
- Hilary Abbott Communications, Inc.
- United Military Care, Inc.
- Huggies http://www.huggies.com/
- b.box http://bbox.com.au/
- Babyhome http://www.babyhome.es/us/en
- Duux http://duux.com/
- MAM http://www.mambaby.com/us/
- Naturalmat http://www.naturalmatusa.com/
- Silikids http://www.silikids.com/
- Pacapod http://www.pacapod.com/
- Pediped http://www.pediped.com/
- Konfidence http://www.konfidence-usa.com
- Baby Blanket Music http://www.babyblanketmusic.com/
- Brian James Footwear http://www.brianjamesfootwear.com/
- Sensational Baskets http://www.sensationalbaskets.com/