Last Thursday, in honor of Armed Forces Month and as part of our monthly Braves Care front office staff volunteer initiative, we welcomed members of the Wounded Warrior Project, a veteran service organization for wounded veterans, to Turner Field for the 3rd Annual Wounded Warrior Classic.
The Warriors arrived at the ballpark around 10 am for a VIP all-access tour of the Braves Museum, ballpark, press box and the Braves Clubhouse. At the conclusion of their tour, the Warriors were joined by our front office staff for a “ballpark meal” in our patio space behind home plate.
Following lunch, we led them down to the field to take batting practice from home plate! They couldn’t hit live batting practice on a Major League Baseball field without bats and gloves, so at that point we let the warriors know that everyone was going home with some new baseball equipment compliments of Mizuno Baseball.
Once they took the field, Braves alumni Greg McMichael, Jim Nash, Johnny Estrada, and Alejandro Pena joined the group as batting practice coaches for the Warriors.
Just like the pros, each Warrior had the chance to take about 10 swings from the tortoise shell. When they weren’t hitting, they were fielding balls with Braves staff in the outfield and mingling with alumni players.
The Braves alumni gladly signed autographs and took photos with the Warriors, and at the end of their visit, our special guests gathered by the Braves dugout for a group photo.
We are so thankful for their service and were equally excited to host another wonderful event for them this year! Each warrior and their family will be in attendance to watch the Braves take on the Miami Marlins this Saturday, May 27th in honor of Memorial Day weekend.
On Mother’s Day we celebrated a very special Mom, Carol Thomas, the Atlanta Braves’ 2016 Honorary Bat Girl.
The Honorary Bat Girl contest is held annually by MLB to raise awareness about breast cancer. Fans across the country are encouraged to nominate people who are “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer”. The public is then able to vote on their favorite stories. This year, Freddie Freeman was on the judging panel assembled by MLB to choose the winner for each team.
Carol is a breast cancer survivor and was first diagnosed in 2013 and has beaten the disease twice. She is battling breast cancer for the third time and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Carol arrived for her VIP day at Turner Field along with six family members and close friends. Each member of the group received a VIP pass as a member of “Carol’s Fan Club”. The group was taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark before gates opened. Everyone posed for pictures in the Coca-Cola chairs in Sky Field, took selfies with Julio Teheran in the outfield, walked through the Club Level and explored the SunTrust Club. The tour ended with a group photo on the field.
Following the tour, Carol, her daughter Nikki, and her nephew Blake, were surprised in the Braves dugout by Nick Markakis, Fredi Gonzalez, Freddie and Chelsea Freeman, Jeff and Catie Francoeur, and Nancy Flowers. The groups presented her with a pink bat and ball, flowers and a special pink and white Braves jersey with MLB’s Honorary Bat Girl logo on the back.
After many autographs, hugs, and pictures, Carol and Nikki sat down with the Braves pre-game show host for an interview where Carol thanked MLB and the Braves for the opportunity to talk about breast cancer. She stressed the importance of self-exams and annual mammograms. Nikki spoke about how her mother was the rock of the family and said that Carol is the strongest and most positive person she knows.
The next stop for Carol and her fan club was the Plaza Stage where she was a special guest in the Heavy Hitters’ “Get Like Us” game. She faced off against a member of the Heavy Hitters in a drum battle to prove her rhythm. The rest of Carol’s day included getting autographs from Braves Alumni, a few appearances on the jumbo-tron, and of course the Braves vs. Diamondbacks game.
Read Mark Bowman’s article on Carol’s visit to Turner Field: http://m.mlb.com/news/article/176915272/braves-honorary-bat-girl-carol-thomas-thankful
For more information on the contest, visit www.honorarybatgirl.com.
In honor of Armed Forces Month, Braves alumni and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro joined our front office staff at the USO of Georgia on Friday, May 6th.
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 airport to stop in and have a hot meal and a quiet place to regroup. Every Friday, the USO anticipates the arrival of a couple 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 spent our day preparing toiletry care packages for troops overseas, serving lunch to the soldiers that stopped by the USO facility for a little R&R, and welcoming new soldiers returning from basic training. Niekro enjoyed a Chick-fil-A sandwich with the troops while signing plenty of autographs and making tons of new friends. The USO even gifted Niekro with a special USO 75th Anniversary t-shirt!
What an amazing way to kick off our Armed Forces Month! Stay tuned for more exciting military appreciation activities this month.
On Tuesday, April 12, the Atlanta Braves provided breakfast for the teachers and staff at D.H. Stanton Elementary School. With Georgia Milestone testing beginning on April 13, the Braves wanted to show the staff how much the community values their hard work. D.H. Stanton employees have been preparing their students for these state exams all school year. The menu included Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits, fruit, orange juice and water bottles. In addition to the yummy food items, each attendant received stickers, tomahawks, and two tickets to attend Teacher Appreciation Night at Turner Field on Saturday, May 7.
For more information on Teacher Appreciation Night, please visit http://m.mlb.com/atl/tickets/info/teacher-appreciation-game.
Happy National Volunteer Week from the Atlanta Braves! We are committed to making a difference in Braves Country and encourage you to go out and volunteer in your community! Enjoy the below photos of some of your favorite Braves players of yesterday and today along with our Braves front office staff giving back. #BravesGive
On Saturday, April 9, the Atlanta Braves hosted sixteen youth baseball and softball teams in the Jackie Robinson Baseball Invitational presented by Delta Air Lines. The free one-day tournament was held at the Braves Baseball Academy at the Villages of Carver Family YMCA. The tournament was a celebration of Jackie Robinson’s legacy and a tribute to the deep and long-lasting impact that he has had on the game of baseball.
The participants ranged from ages 5 to 12 and the tournament featured teams from across the Metro Atlanta including the towns of Sharpsburg, Hampton, Stone Mountain, Marietta, and Jonesboro. The tournament was an opportunity for friends and family members to enjoy a beautiful day of baseball and fun!
During the Welcome Ceremony, the players were given the opportunity to hear from Atlanta Braves Third Base Coach, Bo Porter, on the importance of celebrating Jackie Robinson and the meaning of Robinson’s legacy. Coach Porter, alongside Homer, posed with all of the players and coaches for team pictures. Delta Air Line representative, Lasandra Boykin, said a few words on behalf of Delta and threw out the first pitch.
All players were asked to participate in the “Tribute to 42” Art, Essay and Poetry Contest to express the nine characteristics that Robinson embodied throughout his life: courage, teamwork, integrity, justice, excellence, determination, persistence, citizenship, and commitment. Athletes from the 6U and 8U divisions competed in a traditional Pitch, Hit, and Run, baseball skills challenge including the Golden Arm, Home Run Derby, and Fleet Feet contests. The winners of the “Tribute to 42” Contest and the skills competition were honored on field before Saturday night’s game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. Additionally, one boy and one girl, nominated by their coaches from the 12U divisions received the Delta Positive Athlete award.
Winners are as listed:
Homerun Derby Champions:
Zavier Blankenship – 6U – Duluth Wildcats
Croix Philip – 8U – Step Up To The Plate All-Stars
Fleet Feet Base Running Champions:
Myles Thomas – 6U – Camp Creek Bombers
D.J. McMillan – 8U – Panhandle Marlins
Golden Arm Pitch Champions:
Brian Grant – 6U – Camp Creek Bombers
Jayden Smith – 8U – Redan Red Sox
“Tribute to 42” Art, Essay & Poetry Contest Winners:
Brian Grant – 6U – Camp Creek Bombers
AJ Cater – 8U – Step Up To The Plate All-Stars
Zaria Smith – 12U Softball – Milford Shockwave
Tyjere Lane – 12U Baseball – Panhandle Braves
Delta Positive Athlete Georgia Award Recipients:
Jasmine Alwan – 12U Softball – Milford Shockwave
Julian Wright – 12U Baseball – Step Up To The Plate All-Stars
6U – Camp Creek Bombers
8U – Redan Red Sox
12U Softball – Sharpsburg Attitude
12U Baseball – Shiloh Adams
Congratulations to all winners, individuals and teams, and thank you for helping the Atlanta Braves honor Jackie Robinson’s legacy!
On Wednesday, April 6th, we hosted our final Leadoff Luncheon at Turner Field in the 755 Club. This exclusive event acts as one of the many fundraisers for the Atlanta Braves Foundation and allows fans and sponsors a chance to have lunch with a Braves player or coach from the Opening Day roster.
Braves Vice Chairman John Schuerholz welcomed everyone to the event, and Braves broadcasters Chip Caray, Joe Simpson, Jim Powell, and Don Sutton all facilitated round table discussions between the Braves newbies and veterans. New to the Braves, Tyler Flowers, Gordon Beckham, and Ender Inciarte sat on the Braves “Newbies” round table while Braves veteran players such as Freddie Freeman, Jason Grilli, Kelly Johnson and Jeff Franceour talked about their role in the clubhouse with the younger prospects on the Braves Veterans round table. This portion of the program gave all participants an inside look on what to expect out of their team this season. Participants also got to hear from Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart and Manager Fredi Gonzalez.
The luncheon included a silent auction for participants to place bids on unique Atlanta Braves autographed memorabilia.
Overall, this was a very successful fundraiser for the Braves Foundation and a great way to kick off the 2016 Braves baseball season!
Kelly Johnson invited 12-year-old Braves fan Josh Mack of Marietta, GA to Turner Field Saturday for a VIP look at Braves batting practice as part of his Kelly’s Kids pediatric cancer outreach initiative. Josh was diagnosed with leukemia at a young age and after aggressive treatment, he is now 3 years cancer-free! Kelly met Josh on the field during warm-ups and gave him a special Braves t-shirt with Kelly’s name and number stitched on the back and a Braves swag bag. After introducing Josh to all of his big league friends, Kelly even took him into the Braves clubhouse for an exclusive look! Josh came out with a brand new Braves hat and Snickers bar.
What an amazing experience for a much-deserving young man! Kelly will be inviting children affected by pediatric cancer out to the ballpark throughout the season as part of this ongoing Kelly’s Kids initiative. Thank you, Kelly!!
On Opening Day, the Atlanta Braves honored Philip Ross as a 2016 Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-A. Philip is the Founder and Executive Director of Bright Futures Atlanta (BFA), which is a year-round program that includes an academy, after-school program, and a summer camp. BFA was created in 2002 to promote spiritual, academic and physical development for youth and their families in the Bankhead Highway area of West Atlanta. The program is open to middle and high school students and all three aspects are mandatory. The goal of BFA is for the students to emerge as self-sufficient and personally accountable with positive career direction and the tools necessary for lifelong achievement.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Philip Ross’ work is his personal devotion to the students and their success. Philip and his wife, Gail, built the after school facility – the Bright Futures House – on the same property as their family home. The Bright Futures House features a game room, a full kitchen, a computer lab, a beach volleyball court and a basketball hoop. Gail, with the help of staff members and volunteers, provides snacks and/or dinner for the students three nights per week. BFA students also receive breakfast and lunch every morning at the Academy.
Philip shared that his favorite element of BFA is summer camp because that is where the real “family” bonds are established. Summer camp kicks off every year with a trip to Panama City Beach for a week. Back in Atlanta, the camp consists of regular camp activities such as recreation, arts, and field trips to exciting events around the city. At the end of the summer, the leaders take the students to Southwest Virginia to spend eight nights at a community church center. In Southwest Virginia, the youth have the opportunity to participate in activities that they would otherwise never be exposed to such as tubing down the New River, hiking up to the Cascade falls, and going to a dairy farm.
The Atlanta Braves are thrilled to honor Philip and highlight the work that he, his wife, and his staff members are doing to help the underserved youth in Braves Country. Please help us in congratulating Philip Ross on being chosen as a 2016 Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-a.
Since 2002, BFA has grown tremendously, almost doubling in size over the past three years, which is a testament to the positive impact that the program is having on the community. Currently, BFA is undergoing renovation to double their current student capacity. BFA needs community help with fundraising and resources to keep up with their rapidly growing student population. BFA relies heavily on volunteer resources and is currently looking for dependable, consistent volunteers. The needs range from after school tutors to community members who can provide services that are typically available to large businesses such as digital marketing or bookkeeping.
Watch the video below to see how the Braves honored Philip at Turner Field!
For more information on the organization and how you can help, please visit http://www.bfatl.org/. Supporters can also text “give” to 678-582-8005 to donate.
Last week, Braves staff members volunteered at the AG Rhodes Senior Health and Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta as part of a special St. Patrick’s Day Braves Care event. We played BINGO! with the residents, enjoyed St. Patty’s themed refreshments, and even sang karaoke.
After four rounds of BINGO!, we served “Shamrock Juice” (lime sherbet and Sprite) and four-leaf clover cookies to all of the residents. Each senior proudly wore their new Braves cap and green glow stick necklace/bracelet to get them in the St. Patty’s Day spirit. To close out the event, Braves staff took over the mic to sing a crowd favorite, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” for the group. What a fun way to spend our St. Patrick’s Day out in the community!