The Atlanta Braves launched the 2013 Braves Country Caravan by traveling to various locations in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. Throughout this two week trip, the Braves players, coaches, alumni, broadcasters and staff made several community outreach stops along the way.
Two stops were special visits to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and to the University of Alabama’s Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Braves players had an opportunity to play games and spend time with many of the children. The smiles on the faces of those kids spoke volumes to the impact that the Braves organization has on the southeast region of our country, better known as BRAVES COUNTRY!
Our stop at Clay National Guard, located at Dobbins Air Force Base, served as a special Braves send off for units preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. The team toured the joint operations center and saw how the National Guard helps respond to disasters in the Southeast, and then they made their way to the drill hall to greet a larger audience of soldiers and their families. The team was greeted by the 116th Army Guard Band playing the Braves chop and Take Me Out to the Ballgame, followed by a Q&A session, autographs and pictures.
To further demonstrate our gratitude to service men and women, we visited the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Hospital in Augusta, Georgia. After signing autographs, Freddie Freeman, Tyler Pastornicky, and JR Graham took on the challenge of the mountain climbing wall. This really gave everyone a greater appreciation for the rehabilitation efforts of the veterans at this hospital.
Next, the Braves family visited students at the DeKalb PATH Academy here in Atlanta and at Liberty High School in Liberty, SC. At the DeKalb PATH Academy, Hall of Famer Don Sutton and Bill Nigut, CEO of the Anti Defamtion League led the discussion on bullying. Don Sutton, Fredi Gonzalez, Brian Snitker, Freddie Freeman, and Tyler Pastornicky added their signatures to a “No Place for Hate” Resolution by placing their handprints and signatures on the gymnasium wall. At Liberty High School, we had the pleasure of speaking with local middle and high school baseball and softball players. The students were excited to hear from Terry Pendleton, Chip Carey, Brandon Beachy, and Sean Gilmartin and wanted to know more about life in the big leagues, influential people in their lives and what they would have done if they were not baseball players.
One of the most interactive and rewarding stops on the Caravan was our visit to Atlanta’s City of Refuge, an organization that provides resources and assistance to those who are less fortunate. Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla, Brian McCann, Paul Yanish, Reed Johnson, and Cory Gearrin spent time with the pre-schoolers then put their skills to work in the kitchen as they helped prepare and serve lunch to the residents. The Tomahawk Team even joined in by serving beverages and dessert!
The 2013 Braves Country Caravan was huge a success! The southeast always has been and always will be … BRAVES COUNTRY!!!!