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.
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.
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.
- Alive Ministries will purchase and donate food and toiletries to children and families in need within the Cobb County School District.
- Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region will use funds to support the “No Place for Hate” anti-bullying initiative.
- Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta will integrate healthy living values into an edible landscape community garden at Anderson Boys & Girls Club.
- Camp Sunshine will enrich the lives of Georgia’s children with cancer and their families through year round recreational, educational and support programs.
- Center for Children & Young Adults will provide funding for bed frames and dressers for Another Chance, a 20 bed youth shelter.
- Center for Working Families will provide arts, beautification and education projects for parent and child living in neighborhood planning unit V.
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will purchase motion analysis equipment to help prevent injuries in young athletes.
- Christian Aid Mission Partnership will provide backpacks filled with school supplies to needy families in Cobb County.
- CHRIS Kids will provide Trauma kits to relieve stress for children in traumatic situations.
- City of Refuge will provide nutrition education, dance, and soccer to 50 homeless and at risk youth.
- Cobb Alcohol Taskforce will utilize peer leadership support and training to curb underage drinking through the Cobb Youth Rise program.
- Cobb Health Futures Foundation will support the media smart youth program that educates youth on media, physical activity and nutrition.
- Cobb Library Foundation will build designated teen centers for youth ages 12-19 to read, study and meet.
- Cobb Police Athletic League will provide registration fees, uniforms and equipment for youth.
- 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.
- Community Advanced Practices Nurses will provide healthcare for homeless and low-income children.
- CURE Childhood Cancer – will fund the Open Arms program that provides patients and family services for children with cancer.
- East Lake Foundation will support the Charles R. Drew after-school program.
- Everybody Wins! Atlanta will provide a reading power lunch for students and volunteers at Dunbar Elementary School.
- Foster Siblings Reunited, Inc. will provide summer camp opportunities for siblings who have been separated in foster care the system.
- Fragile Kids Foundation will provide specialized medical equipment for children with disabilities.
- 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.
- Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation will help fund the WOW! Program which provides memorable vacations for families dealing with cancer.
- Latin American Association will fund a program that helps Latino youth succeed in school and advance to higher education.
- 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.
- Kamp Kizzy will support the Kamp Kizzy summer camp mentoring initiative for teen girls.
- Kutz for Kids will provide after school mentoring support for middle and high school students.
- Lutheran Services of Georgia will provide basic necessities to set up homes for refugee children.
- Make-A-Wish Georgia will grant special wish experiences to children with life threatening illnesses.
- 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.
- Marietta YELLS will launch a community library support healthy living through monthly teen-led community dinners.
- Muscular Dystrophy Association will fund medical supplies and costs for children to attend MDA Summer Camps.
- National Coalition of 100 Black Women, NW Georgia will support the High School to Heels program for teen girls.
- Special Olympics Georgia will help offset costs for youth to attend the Special Olympic Georgia State games.
- Ten Women of Hope will provide emergency assistance for single women with children including rent, utilities, medication, car repairs or other basic needs.
- The Brian Jordan Foundation will support Camp Jordan, a free baseball clinic for more than 200 disadvantaged children.
- Tomorrow’s Champion will provide opportunities for girls to learn the fundamentals of softball and life skills.
- Urban League of Greater Atlanta will award college scholarship opportunities to high school students.
- Villages of Carver Family YMCA will use funds to support the youth baseball initiatives at the Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Academy.
- YWCA of Northwest Georgia, Inc. will provide summer camp opportunities for children of domestic violence victims.
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.
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
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.
It was a clear, crisp morning on Saturday, September 20 as 14 of the best Minor League players from the Braves organization took the field at East Marietta Little League at Sewell Park in Cobb County. About 60 youth baseball players were there and ready to learn hitting, fielding, and base running from these “Future Stars.” The 14 Braves Minor Leaguers were chosen as the best pitchers and hitters from each league leading up to the Major League Atlanta Braves (from Dominican Summer League, to Rookie ball, all the way through the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves). As part of the weekend festivities for the players, they volunteered their Saturday morning to teach young ballplayers many of the skills that led them to where they are today.
The clinic was split into four stations: hitting, infield work, base running, and outfield work. There were 3-4 players at each station, which gave ample instruction to each group of 15 ballplayers. By the end of the clinic – not only were the young ballplayers worn out, but so were the Minor Leaguers!
Once the clinic ended – everyone gathered back on the main field for a group photo. Then came a nice surprise, autographs! We set up an autograph station for all the participants to get signatures from the “Future Stars.” A gift bag with a Braves t-shirt, a Braves sticker, and a Braves hat was also given to each participant. Many of these “Future Stars” will be on the Major League roster in a few years, so this was a great opportunity to meet and learn from the guys now.
Following the clinic, Tim Givens, East Marietta Little League President, responded with a really nice note about the event. “What a great day! Thank you so much for giving our park such an incredible experience! I know the kids will be talking about it for a really long time.” Tim was such a great host and helped us in organizing this awesome day for East Marietta Little League and our Minor League players. We all really enjoyed it!
This is the fourth year that we have been able to host a community event as part of our Minor League Future Stars awards celebration. Some of the other events included feeding the homeless and visiting a children’s hospital.
Thankful to be able to give back to the community, the players really enjoyed their experience interacting with the youngsters. Ronnie Richardson, Director of Minor League Operations, had this to say about the clinic, “Thank you for organizing a great community event for our Minor League Players. The overall experience for our players was great and they truly enjoyed interacting with the fans. Our goal is not only to develop good baseball players, but also to develop players that have a desire to give back to the community when they have the opportunity.”
Below are the Minor League award winners for 2014 that participated in the clinic.
- Jason Hursh – Mississippi Braves
- Williams Perez – Mississippi Braves
- Nate Hyatt – Lynchburg Hillcats
- Yean Carlos Gil – Rome Braves
- Alec Grosser – Danville Braves
- Jorge Zavala – Gulf Coast League
- Dilmer Mejia – Dominican Summer League
- Jose Peraza – Mississippi Braves
- Kyle Kubitza – Mississippi Braves
- Kyle Wren – Lynchburg Hillcats
- Jake Schrader – Rome Braves
- Ozhaino Albies – Danville Braves
- Alejandro Salazar – Dominican Summer League
Look for these outstanding young men to be with the Atlanta Braves in the near future!
Christmas arrived early this year, when the Atlanta Braves players, coaches, and the Braves Wives along with front office members, spread holiday cheer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite. This is a favorite event for our organization in which we take time to visit with children and their families, and distribute toys collected during the Braves Wives Toy Drive.
Each year, the Braves Wives host a Toy Drive prior to a Braves baseball game and invite fans to donate toys that are used for this particular event. The Toy Drive was a huge success this season and it gave all the children at CHOA a toy to call their own. Fans who donated were entered into a raffle to receive autographed items signed by current Braves players.
Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez, Coach Roger McDowell, Braves players Tyler Pastornicky, Shae Simmons, Chasen Shreve, David Hale, Justin Upton and his fiancé, Craig Kimbrel and his wife, Alex Wood and his girlfriend, Gus Schlosser and his girlfriend, Leanna Floyd, wife of Braves pitcher Gavin Floyd spent the morning visiting kids room to room.
The players, coaches, and wives split into groups each with a little red wagon full of toys. For many of the children staying at CHOA having a sense of normalcy is difficult because of the treatment they receive depending on their conditions. The players and coaches greeted the families, the wives presented the toys, and the group posed for photos.
After making their rounds in the hospital, the players made a final stop at the Fun Zone where they surprised a group of eager Braves fans who heard the rumors of some special guests in the hospital. The Fun Zone is a kid’s dream play space filled with video games, board games, arts & crafts, and an outdoor mini court. The Braves front office staff lead a special Braves arts & crafts project with the patients in the Zone before they were surprised by their favorite Braves players.
The excitement in the room could not be contained, as the players and coaches mingled with the kids, signing autographs, and playing games. The parents and staff were grateful that indeed Christmas arrived early for their little ones.
Thank you to all of our Braves players, coaches, wives, and front office staff for making this visit a memorable one for all these kids!
The 6th Annual Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Classic presented by Bank of America was recently held over Labor Day Weekend, August 29th-31st at Wills Park in Alpharetta, GA.
The annual Youth Baseball Classic hosted teams from all across the southeast: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In total, there were 72 teams, with 9 age divisions (6U-16U) and 8 teams in each division. Each team was guaranteed to play three games over the weekend.
To enhance everyone’s Braves experience, all teams got the chance to take a team photo with Braves 3rd Baseman Chris Johnson. They also received an official Braves Youth Classic t-shirts, gift bags, tickets to Braves vs. Marlins game on the second day of the classic, as well as a chance to participate in the pre-game parade around the warning track.
The Braves Youth Baseball Classic was created to expand our reach and impact on youth baseball throughout the Southeast. The tournament is designed to give young baseball players a unique experience, a chance to meet a Braves player and attend a Braves game at Turner Field.
Play started on Friday night under the lights. The fields played host to the 7U, 8U, 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U, 13U and 16U divisions. From the crack of the first bat, you could feel the excitement of each team as they fought for their first win. Three games were slated for Friday night in each division and the last games didn’t end until 11 p.m.
Saturday morning started early. The sun was barely up when the kids took the field. By 10am, the sun started to heat up the park and you could definitely tell summer was still in full swing, especially with all the baseball going on!
At noon on Saturday, all play stopped for the Welcome Ceremony. Atlanta Braves Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Derek Schiller welcomed the youth players, parents, and families. Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle addressed the crowd and welcomed everyone to Wills Park and the City of Alpharetta and Bank of America Managing Director Mark Adams was also on hand to address the teams. Welcomed by a roar of applause, Chris Johnson announced the nine lucky participants of that night’s on-field presentation at Turner Field. After the ceremony was over, each team had their chance to meet Chris and take a photo with him.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of teams finishing up their pool play games in hopes of being the highest seed possible for Sunday’s Championship Brackets. Once the last games were completed, the teams had a little time to go back to their hotels and get ready for the Braves game at Turner Field.
The on-field ceremony took place next with Bank of America Georgia President Geri Thomas and Chris Johnson. Both Chris and Geri congratulated each player by shaking their hands, presenting them with a medal. The following players were randomly selected to represent their age division.
6U – STEELE LICKLITER, PONTE VEDRA SHARKS, PONTE VEDRA, FL
7U – AVERY LEWIS, KNOXVILLE STIX, KNOXVILLE, TN
8U – COOPER DAVIS, KENNESAW GENERALS, KENNESAW, GA
9U – MICHAEL MARTINEZ, SOUTH GWINNETT RATTLERS, DECATUR, GA
10U – CANYON NEWMAN, BONECRUSHERS, BLOOMINGDALE, GA
11U – JAKE ROWELL, DIRT DOBBERS, HAZLEHURST, GA
12U – DAKOTA CHASE BROOKING, NORTH GEORGIA MUDCATS, ROME, GA
13U – CORTEZ ROBERSON, G-A-T-A- WOLFPACK, LITHONIA, GA
16U – PEYTON PAGE, THE UNDERTAKERS, VIDALIA, GA
Congrats to each lucky winner!
The Braves vs. Marlins game that night provided a great experience for all the teams, coaches, and families in attendance. Many had never been to a Braves game before and thoroughly enjoyed it! During the game, many coaches and parents were anxious to find out their seed for the Sunday bracket portion of the tournament and at about 8:00pm, brackets were posted online at www.bravesyouthclassic.com.
Sunday started early again “under the lights.” The rest of the day, we inched closer towards the champion in each age division. The last game for the 16U Division did not end until 8:30pm but most of the other divisions finished somewhere around 7:00pm. Listed below is the list of champion teams and runner ups from each age division.
Congratulations to everyone that made it that far! It was a long road to get there!
6U CHAMPION – North Macon National All-Stars
RUNNER-UP – Canton Noles
7U CHAMPION – Canton Stingers
RUNNER-UP – Brookwood Knights
8U CHAMPION – Kennesaw Generals Blue
RUNNER-UP – Collins Hill Black Eagles
9U CHAMPION – South Gwinnett Rattlers
RUNNER-UP – Sandtown Red Sox
10U CHAMPION – SBA Canes
RUNNER-UP – Tri-County Athletics
11U CHAMPION – Powder Springs Indians
RUNNER-UP – Young Guns
12U CHAMPION – Full Throttle Baseball
RUNNER-UP – Swamp Donkeys
13U CHAMPION – Georgia Batmen
RUNNER-UP – D2E/RatedR
16U CHAMPION – SW 3Up 3Down
RUNNER-UP – Upstate Showcase Baseball
Congrats and a big THANK YOU to all of the teams that participated and made this tournament fun and competitive. The Braves, Wills Park, the City of Alpharetta and Turner Field enjoyed hosting you! We look forward to seeing you again next year!
To view footage shown on BravesVision from the Youth Baseball Classic, please click: http://www.bravesvision.com/ftp_root/send11/Youth%20Baseball%20Classic%208-31-14.mp4
In July, Atlanta Braves trainers Jeff Porter and Jim Lovell partnered with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation to host the PLAY Clinic. PLAY, or Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, was created by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) to raise awareness about children’s health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States. The program is based upon using the celebrity appeal of Major League Baseball and all of the teams and players to reach tens of thousands of America’s young people with positive messages about living a more healthier and active lifestyle.
Young athletes from the Field of Dreams Academy, L.E.A.D., Atlanta Police Athletic League, Gresham Park Softball Angels, and the YMCA arrived at the ballpark bright and early and were welcomed by Jeff Porter, followed by a short speech behind the Braves dugout by Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooten Foundation on steroid education. Parker shared using steroids is cheating but more importantly it can lead to serious health problems and potential death. There is immense pressure to perform at a certain level but it possible to perform at such high standards if athletes have a balance diet and training regimen. There was a lot of information shared during this talk and after the steroids talk, the teens moved on to right field to stretch and learn their clinic assignments.
The stations included agility drills and batting, and an continued discussion on proper nutrition by representatives with the Henry Schein Cares Foundation. After a 2 hours of baseballs skills training and health education, the teen athletes were ready for lunch. The athletes were lead to the patio and were greeted by Braves pitcher Kris Medlen. Medlen shared his sports experience growing up and what decisions lead him to choose baseball as a long term focused. Medlen battled a season ending injury; however, he provided encouraging words to the teens on keeping yourself active and to keep pushing. Porter and Lovell applauded Medlen’s positive attitude during his recovery period and continued initiative in being a team member despite not being active on the field. Medlen shared a lot with the group and invited the teen athletes to ask questions. Medlen shared “Who was his inspiration growing up? to “Who is the toughest batter you’ve ever pitched against?” and so on.
The entire day was a learning experience and gave the young athletes the opportunity to acquire helpful tips about a healthy lifestyle from athletes and trainers who focus on these qualities every day.
This summer, we partnered with the Georgia Public Library Service and SUBWAY Restaurants to encourage students to continue learning throughout the summer months.
The 2014 Atlanta Braves summer reading program, Home Run Readers presented by SUBWAY® Restaurants, is an educational outreach initiative that promotes literacy among youth. Home Run Readers rewards students in grades K-12 throughout the state of Georgia with a free Braves ticket and SUBWAY® Restaurants Fresh Fit for Kids Meal for reading books and completing an online activity.
We invited a special group of Home Run Readers to join us at the Cobb County Library in Marietta for a special appearance by Braves All-Star first baseman, Freddie Freeman and Jared Fogle of Subway. Freddie and Jared were warmly welcomed by 680 The Fan radio personality, Ben Ingram and about 150 kids proudly doing the “tomahawk chop” with their red foam tomahawks in-hand.
Our two special guests made their way to the stage where they started by talking about the importance of staying healthy and being good students. They went on to take turns reading “Casey Back at Bat,” to the audience. After reading the book, the kids paid close attention as they followed along on their HOMER (bingo) cards. Freddie and Jared read out key words from the story, and each child was able to mark it off of their HOMER card until they had five in a row. Winners yelled out “HOMER!” at the top of their lungs and were rewarded with Subway gift cards and autographed Freeman posters and bobbleheads.
Once the story time and HOMER game had come to a close, the participants had the opportunity to ask Freddie and Jared questions about their careers and what it means to stay healthy and do well in school. After the question and answer segment, the winners of the HOMER game were able to take photos with both Freddie and Jared and our mascot, Homer!
On site for the event were several Cobb County officials including Commissioners Joanne Birrell, Lisa Cupid, Helen Goreham and Bob Ott. Representing Georgia Public Library Service was Georgia State Librarian Julie Walker and representing Cobb County Public Library System was Helen Poyer.
Note from Helen Poyer after the event. “What a great day at Cobb County Public Library System’s Switzer Library for our Atlanta Braves Home Run Readers!! Many, many thanks for providing such a wonderful experience for the kids in our community. It was such a delight to see the smiles on their faces as they listened to Freddie and Jarod. They will remember this day for a very long time!”
See the link for a video of the event.
Thanks to the Cobb County Library for being lovely hosts, and we look forward to seeing the Home Run Readers at Turner Field….keep reading!!
Major League Baseball, Target and PEOPLE Magazine teamed up for the “Target Presents PEOPLE All-Star Teachers” campaign, which celebrated remarkable current and retired teachers who have made an impact on the lives of their students and communities. Fans were encouraged to nominate outstanding teachers from all 30 MLB cities for the chance to represent their favorite team and be honored during the pre-game ceremony of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game in Minneapolis on July 15th.
Braves Country selected a well-deserving educator to represent the Braves at the MLB All Star Game. Judy Stewart of Acworth, GA was the outstanding teacher that got the trip of a lifetime. She was asked to “guest blog” for us and tell us a little bit about what the experience meant to her. Take it away, Judy!
I wanted to let the Braves organization know what an honor it has been to represent the Braves at the All Star game. Everyone has been so kind. The three days we were in Minneapolis were busy but loaded with fun and exciting activities.
On Sunday, after our arrival, we were honored at a reception at Target Commons. We had a chance to meet the other winners from all over the country and Canada. We met with some of the executives from the Target Corporation, People Magazine and MLB. We made pictures of each other and Bullseye, the Target Mascot. The highlight of the night was meeting Cal Ripkin Jr., where he was the keynote speaker. All of the teachers received a Tiffany engraved star, a new I Pad mini and a Target gift card. What an amazing first day.
Monday began with a brunch with fellow teachers and our guests. We were then taken to the All Star Press conference where the coaches and pitchers were introduced. We then had pictures and interview from the press. After a short break of free time, helped conduct a Target service event at the Target Arena. We were able to help put together 10, 000 back to school kits for children in the Minneapolis area. The kits will be distributed through the Kids in Need program. The Home Run Derby was our next destination. We were able to view the Derby from our seats in a very nice suite. We had so much fun getting to know each other and share stories from our home towns. We ended the night at the All Star Gala in the old Mill district.
On Tuesday, we were up and at it very early. We were taken to Target Stadium for breakfast in the Twins dining room. The rehearsal for the pregame show was next. We had been told that they had been practicing for days with stand-ins for us. As we began to practice, we soon realized that Idina Menzel was already there to practice. As she stood directly behind me, I tried to sneak a picture. During a short break, she was gracious enough to allow us to take some pictures. Following the practice we had the biggest surprise of the day, a visit from Dr. Jill Biden. She was so kind and knew every one of our stories. We each had a picture made with her. She even joined us on the trolleys that we rode during the All Star parade. It was a blast to wave and talk to people along the parade route.
Tuesday evening was the big event! As we waited to go on the field, it began to sink in that this was really happening! We watched the crowd file in and the players were announced. Then our big moment arrived. As we walked onto the field, Idina Menzel started to sing. What a feeling!!! Ms. Menzel sang the National Anthem as we watched the huge flag open across the field. There was also a fly over by the Thunderbird Air Corp. As we left the field we walked through rows of children holding American flags and cheering for us.
In the suite, we were honored to find Dr. Jill Biden, sitting next to my husband. We also were visited by Idina Menzel for pictures. Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s daughter, also came by to congratulate us and share some thoughts. It was an incredible night and no one wanted to leave. I have made new friends that I will always remember. This has been a truly amazing adventure for me. Even upon returning home, I have been truly honored by the congratulations and out pouring of love and support. I only wish that every teacher could feel this way every single day.
I look forward to the beginning of the new school year in just a few short days. I am going to incorporate this experience into my classroom and use the All Star theme for my class décor. I am going to encourage my students to be “All Star Students” this year. Thanks again for all you have done during this experience.
The Atlanta Braves would like to congratulate Judy and all of the educators who were honored in Minneapolis. Thank you for making difference in the lives of our youth!
To learn more about all 30 winners, visit mlb.com/allstar-teachers.