The Braves and the Anti-Defamation League teamed up for the annual “No Place for Hate” Anti-Bullying Rally at Turner Field during the final week of the season. More than 1,000 students from the Atlanta Public School system came out to participate.
To kick off the celebration , Anti-Defamation League representatives Shelly Rose and Erin Beacham addressed the crowd on the “No Place for Hate” anti-bulling initiative designed to rally schools around creating a welcoming community and stopping all forms of bias and bullying.
Braves players Blake Lalli and Brandon Snyder made a surprise appearance on the Fan Plaza stage to take a stand against bullying. Along with two students from the crowd, Lalli and Snyder were asked to draw stick figures with physical features that make them a valuable ally to someone being bullied (ears to listen, mouth to speak up, etc.). After everyone was finished drawing, they showed their works of art to the crowd. While similar, all of the drawings had their differences. This activity symbolized the differences in everyone that should be accepted and celebrated! The players answered a few questions about bullying and how to handled certain situations then everyone ended the celebration with the Braves Chop Rally.
To learn more about how to become a “No Place for Hate” school, please visit www.atlanta.adl.org/npfh.
To honor Chipper Jones’ retirement from professional baseball, the Atlanta Braves pledged to refurbish ten baseball fields throughout Greater Atlanta; one field for each of the next 10 years. This September, we teamed up with the Gwinnett Braves to refurbish the fourth field, Dacula Park in Dacula, GA.
To celebrate the improved conditions, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Dacula Park. Rich Wiley, Director of Dacula Athletic Association, acted as Emcee for the program. The Tomahawk Team and the Heavy Hitters were onsite to open the festivities with an exciting performance. Atlanta Braves starting pitcher, Aaron Blair, and alumni pitcher Greg McMichael, were joined by Gwinnett Braves pitchers Stephen Janas and Bradley Roney to help unveil the renovations. Braves President of Business, Derek Schiller, was on hand to speak about the importance of quality field conditions for youth players who are learning to love the game. Gwinnett Braves General Manager, North Johnson, spoke about the importance of baseball in the Gwinnett community.
In addition to Braves officials, representatives from Dacula addressed the crowd. Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Charlotte Nash, spoke about the importance of the Atlanta and Gwinnett Braves’ presence in the community. Ted Thomas, Director of Dacula Park Pony League, touched on how the improvements to the field would help the program grow for years to come.
Braves Field Director, Ed Mangan, addressed the audience and explained the numerous improvements his team made to the field including laser grading the playing surface to ensure smooth hops and safe play, placing new grass-turf in the outfield and rebuilding the mound was to be of Major League caliber. Additionally, the bullpens were resurfaced, providing a better area for pitchers to warm up and the batting cage adjacent to those bullpens was also redone with new netting, turf and outfitted with a new L-screen.
To end the program, officials from the Atlanta Braves, Gwinnett Braves, the city of Dacula, Gwinnett County government and the Dacula Athletic Association joined Homer, Chipper, members of the Tomahawk Team and Dacula youth baseball players in a celebratory ribbon cutting.
Thank you to everyone who helped support this initiative!
The Atlanta Braves Foundation recently distributed $360,000 to 37 Local Non-Profits through the annual grants program. Throughout the year, the Foundation raises funds through a variety of initiatives and events including the 50/50 Raffle, the annual Foundation Weekend memorabilia sale, in-game and special event silent auctions, online auctions, the Atlanta Braves Foundation Golf Tournament, the Annual Leadoff Luncheon, the Legacy Brick Paver program and the Braves License Tag initiative. The funds raised are redistributed into the community to support local non-profit organizations.
To celebrate the 2016 grant recipients, representatives from each organization attended a reception at Turner Field and were honored during a pre-game ceremony during the final series. Recipients were joined on the field by Vice Chairman, John Schuerholz; President of Development, Mike Plant; Atlanta Braves Foundation Director, Ericka Newsome-Hill; and Community Affairs Manager, Janet Sevilla.
Congratulations to all of the 2016 grant recipients! A summary of each of the 2016 Atlanta Braves Foundation Grant recipients is listed below:
- Boys and Girls Club will integrate healthy living values and skills for youth through their Learning Landscapes program.
- The Brian Jordan Foundation will support Camp Jordan, a free baseball clinic for more than 500 disadvantaged children.
- Camp Sunshine will enrich lives of Georgia’s children with cancer and their families by providing summer recreation and educational support programs free of charge.
- Camp to Belong will cover the full cost of summer camp, tutoring, and enrichment activities for siblings living in separate foster homes.
- Center for Working Families will launch the Breathing Life into the Next Generation family enrichment initiative, which teaches smart spending habits, parenting practices, and healthy lifestyle choices.
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will provide S.A.V.E Training, which teaches coaches and parents lifesaving techniques for more than 2,000 youth athletes.
- Christian Aid Mission Partnership Inc. will support several community programs providing school supplies, free lunch, and clothing for disadvantaged youth.
- Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse will facilitate the Sources of Strength and Active Parenting programs to provide substance abuse prevention training to families in the City of Marietta.
- Cobb Health Futures Foundations will facilitate the Media-Smart Youth program that educates youth on media, physical activity, and nutrition.
- Cobb Police Athletic League will fund the PAL Power program which provides recreational activities, educational workshops, and tutoring as means to prevent juvenile crime.
- Cobb Schools Foundation will partner with the Atlanta Braves Foundation to provide grants for teachers for innovative and creative ideas in teaching and learning.
- Cool Girls Inc will implement the Cool Fitness program to foster physical activity and healthy lifestyles as a means to combat childhood obesity.
- Cure Childhood Cancer will provide meals to hospitalized cancer-stricken children and families through their Open Arms Program.
- East Lake Foundation will purchase educational materials and program supplies for the RISE After School Program that serves children at Drew Charter School.
- Everybody Wins! Atlanta will fund the Power Lunch program at Dunbar and Brumby Elementary Schools, including new book carts and 600 new books.
- Grady Grey Knights Athletic Booster Club, Inc. will build a batting cage, bullpen and on-site practice facility for Grady High School’s baseball and softball teams.
- Gwinnett County Children’s Shelter will purchase new computers, tablets, academic games, and software for the children in their care to complete school assignments and participate in year-round tutoring.
- It’s My Birthday, Inc. will fund birthday parties for children who otherwise would not have a celebration due to either medical limitations or a lack of financial resources.
- Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation will fund first-class WOW! experiences for families with a parent battling cancer.
- LEAD Inc. will operate an organized fall baseball league for inner-city youth and cover the costs of equipment, uniforms, meals and umpire fees.
- LaAmistad, Inc. will purchase equipment for the new sites of their afterschool program including metal cabinets and bookcases.
- Latin American Association will fund the education, health and wellness aspects of the Latino Youth Leadership Academy.
- Marietta Mentoring for Leadership Program will cover the cost of instructors for camp activities for their Summer Leadership Camping Retreat designed to provide recreation, leadership training and career development for youth.
- Marietta Police Athletic League, Inc. will enhance existing sports programs with new, additional equipment and supplies.
- Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School Athletic Boosters, Inc. will provide sports equipment for various teams.
- Must Ministries will fund their Feeding Initiative which will provide 28,000 meals through three food pantries, school-based food pantries and summer lunch program.
- Next Generation Men will provide career exposure opportunities and educational experiences for underserved high school students.
- Nicholas House will provide educational field trips for homeless youth.
- Pitch in for Baseball will provide baseball equipment for middle and high school students in Atlanta and Cobb County.
- Sensations TheraFun will provide sports equipment for children with special needs in an adaptive indoor playground type facility.
- Ser Familia will fund the Strengthening Families program which focuses on parenting skills, children’s life skills, and family skills.
- The Center for Children & Young Adults will provide furniture for a youth shelter.
- The Northside Hospital Foundation will distribute sun awareness education materials to 3,000 elementary students in grades K-5 in Cobb and Cherokee counties.
- The Posse Foundation will provide college access, leadership development, and career training programs for the organization’s scholarship recipients.
- The Stacey and Bo Porter SELF Foundation will provide mentoring, academic, tutoring, sports and enrichment for students in the SELF after school program.
- Youth Empowerment Through Learning, Leading and Serving, Inc. will provide program supplies for their mentoring and afterschool programs.
- The Villages at Carver Family YMCA will support the youth baseball initiatives at the Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy.
Since its inception in 1994, the Braves Foundation has contributed $6.5 million in financial and in-kind assistance to community organizations. Through the generous support of Braves players and staff, sponsors and fans, the Atlanta Braves Foundation continuously strives to improve the quality of life for our youth. For more information on the Braves Foundation grants program visit braves.com/grants.
In honor of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness month, we celebrated the lives and legacies of pediatric cancer survivors and fighters during through a variety of outreach initiatives.
On Saturday, September 10, we welcomed more than 200 pediatric cancer survivors to Turner Field for Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. All proceeds from this event along with the money raised during an online auction featuring unique gold baseballs autographed by current Braves players benefited four pediatric cancer organizations including Rally Foundation, Camp Sunshine, CURE, and Curing Kids Cancer. More than 500 survivors/fighters along with their family and friends were invited to a special reception and received a commemorative “Be Brave. Go Gold.” t-shirt and swag bag.
At the reception, we recognized four courageous young cancer warriors on behalf of each organization who have been a light to the cancer community. These honorees were deemed the “Diamond of Courage” award recipients and were presented their awards by Braves wives, Ronnie Snitker, Donna Reed, and Brittany Wortmann.
The festivities concluded with a parade around the field for all participants and their guests, a special on-field presentation with the Braves Wives and Diamond of Courage award honorees, and nine cancer fighters/survivors taking the field with the starting lineup. Each Braves player had a minute to greet, sign a ball, and share a hug with the child at their position.
We continued our support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with the Braves Wives as they visited Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Scottish Rite’s Aflac cancer wing to create adorable homemade projects with the patients. Ronnie Snitker, Gloria McDowell, Brittany Beckham, Nancy Flowers and Brittany Wortmann helped children hand-bead pieces to attach to a sun catcher for their hospital room. The Wives made connections with the kiddos as they managed to bring smiles to all of their faces.
A HUGE thank you to our Braves Wives who graciously gave up their time to spend with the patients at CHOA.
Throughout the whole month of September, we will be auctioning unique autographed gold baseballs in honor or Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Proceeds benefit Rally Foundation, Camp Sunshine, CURE, and Curing Kids Cancer. To browse these items, please visit www.braves.com/charityauctions.
We have had such a wonderful month of September creating awareness and raising funds for these deserving groups. Thank you to everyone who was instrumental in making this another successful year of GOING GOLD!
On Monday, September 12, the Atlanta Braves honored Eliezer “Eli” Velez as a Braves Country Community Hero presented by Chick-fil-A. Eli is the Managing Director of Youth Programs at the Latin America Association (LAA). He started with LAA in 2001 as a volunteer and has worked his way up within the organization, impacting the lives of students along the way. In his current role, Eli coordinates an after-school program, a mentorship program, and an annual youth conference, all aiming to empower Latino students to pursue higher education and expose them to experience outside their community. Eli is passionate about helping students succeed and teaching them to believe in themselves.
To celebrate this honor, Eli watched the Atlanta Braves take batting practice from the field before the Braves game vs. the Miami Marlins. He received a special gift bag from the Atlanta Braves and Chick-fil-A. To top it all off, Eli got an autograph from Atlanta Braves catcher, Anthony Recker! To culminate the evening, Eli was honored on the field following the 6th inning.
Please join the Braves in thanking Eli for all that he is doing to make an impact in the lives of many youths in the Metro Atlanta community.
For more information on the Latin American Association, please visit http://thelaa.org/.
Please watch the video below to see Eli being honored at Turner Field.
The Atlanta Braves partnered with the Atlanta Community Food Bank to celebrate Hunger Action Month on Friday, September 9th. To kick off the day, Braves front office staff and several A-List Members volunteered at the Food Bank in the Product Rescue Center. The A-List Members were surprised with a visit from pitcher, Shae Simmons and our mascot, Homer! In an hour and a half, the group sorted through 6,664 pounds of donated food, which is enough to provide 4,250 meals to those in need in Metro Atlanta.
That evening at Turner Field, fans were encouraged to bring 20 cans or make a $20 donation to the Atlanta Community Food Bank during our annual Strike Out Hunger Food Drive. In exchange for donations, Braves pitcher Matt Wisler signed autographed and took pictures with fans. We collected 139 pounds of food and over $500 in cash donations, which will provide another 2,355 meals.
As a result of both events, the Atlanta Community Food Bank has 6,605 meals to distribute to local food pantries and kitchens!
Thank you to Shae Simmons and Matt Wisler for helping the Braves and the Food Bank “Strike Out Hunger”!
During the summer, the Atlanta Braves and Arrow Exterminators hosted several School Supply Drives at Turner Field. Braves infielders Chase d’Arnaud, Brandon Snyder, and pitcher Tyrell Jenkins signed autographs for fans who generously gave a $10 monetary donation or $10 worth of school supplies. Fans donated more than 600 items to support students in need. Arrow Exterminators also held a drive, collecting more than 400 items from clients, family members and friends.
On Thursday, September 15, volunteers from Arrow Exterminators and the Braves front office descended upon Dunbar Elementary School, located in Southeast Atlanta, just minutes away from Turner Field, with more than 1,000 school supplies to deliver to classrooms in every grade. The volunteers read to students, distributed Braves-themed prizes and played baseball-themed BINGO. Braves mascot Homer also made a surprise visit much to the delight of the students and teachers!
Thank you, Arrow Exterminators for such a successful partnership and to our fans for helping to make this significant donation to Dunbar Elementary School possible!
During the first two months of the 2016 school year, the Atlanta Braves hosted high school students at Turner Field for Tomahawk Talks: A Sport Industry Insight Panel. Each visit included a tour of the ballpark and a panel discussion with sport and entertainment industry professionals.
In August, Parkview High School brought students to the ballpark as a reward for positive behavior through the Considerate, Productive, and Responsible Program. These students gained a glimpse of the sports industry from members of the Braves Front Office, representing a wide variety of departments including Accounting, Community Affairs, Digital Marketing and Public Relations.
Early in September, students from Campbell High School’s AV, Tech and Film program arrived at Turner Field to learn more about the audio/visual and film careers available with a Major League Baseball team. The Braves’ Game Entertainment department shared industry knowledge and advice regarding fan experience and editing/producing content for in-game and online usage. Following the panel discussion, the students took a trip to the BravesVision offices to learn more about the equipment used at the ballpark.
Next, Culinary Arts students from Booker T. Washington High School learned about the hospitality aspect of sports and entertainment. Upon arrival, the students went to the visiting dugout for a quick photo opportunity. After the photo, our guests watched Delaware North Executive Sous Chef, Rory Bancroft, demonstrate the making of The T.E.D., a specialty hot dog created just for Turner Field. Finally, the students had the opportunity to hear from a variety of Delaware North employees ranging from Human Resources to the District Manager. The panelists shared various backgrounds, communicating to the students that there is rarely one certain path to get to where you want to be.
Our final group came from Harrison High School’s Sports Medicine program. Following the students’ tour of Turner Field, Director of Player and Health Performance, Andrew Hauser, and Head Athletic Trainer, Jeff Porter, spoke to the students about their day-to-day duties including treatment programs and pitchers’ schedules, positive and negative aspects of working in the sports industry and shared ways for the students to get ahead now.
In total, close to 100 students and teachers participated in the Tomahawk Talks panel discussions. All participants left the ballpark with a new perspective on working in the sports industry and of course a goodie bag full of Braves swag including tickets to a future Braves game.
Thank you to all who helped to make this panel series possible!
Each season the Atlanta Braves partner with UMPS Care Charities Blue Crew Tickets program, established by the Major League Baseball umpires, to enrich the lives of at-risk youth, and children awaiting adoption by treating them to a unique baseball experience. This season we welcomed guests from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters mentorship program which creates a strong friendship with an adult mentor, and the Dave Thomas Foundation, which connects children awaiting adoption with a loving family.
MLB umpires Dan Bellino, Phil Cuzzi and David Ruckley rolled out the red carpet for our special guests during each visit. Upon arrival, everyone received goodies bags filled with Braves gear, snacks, and concession coupons courtesy of the Braves and UMPS Care Charities.
They were then escorted to the umpires locker room to meet the officials for the day’s game for a special behind-the-scenes look. Inside the locker rooms, the officials spoke about their path to becoming MLB Umpires, their favorite ballparks, and their most memorable moments as umpires. The kids and their chaperones also got the chance to view the instant replay box and walk through the umpire’s tunnel to see the field take a group photo.
Thank you to UMPS Care Charities for providing these special experiences and for doing all that you do to make a difference in the lives of our youth!
On Saturday, August 20th, the Atlanta Braves hosted end-of-the-season an awards ceremony for the Junior Braves/RBI youth baseball and softball players from the following leagues: ATL METRO RBI, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Browns Mill RBI Softball, FCA Urban Baseball, Villages of Carver Family YMCA, and Wade Walker Park Family YMCA.
The following awards were distributed to players from each league based on their overall performance on and off of the field throughout the season:
- Ace in the Community demonstrating community service and an effort to give back to others in need.
- Ace in the Classroom showing that they have put forth significant effort in school or demonstrated an improvement in their grades.
- Ace on the Field honors someone who not only knows the game of baseball well but plays their heart out and strives to be the best but does not have to go to the player with the best statistics.
- Positive Athlete Award highlights the player with the most positive attitude towards teammates, officials, coaches and shows a high level of respect for the game while also being a positive role model to others both on and off the field.
Special recognition went to the 15U MGBA (Marquis Grissom Baseball Association)/ ATL METRO RBI league for winning the RBI Regionals in Chattanooga, TN, and advancing to the RBI World Series in Cincinnati, Ohio. The highly underrated, yet very talented MGBA squad made it all the way to the championship game, yet came up just one run short. The Braves are proud of those young men for leaving their mark!
Additionally, the 19U Browns Mill RBI Softball team also won their regional tournament in Chattanooga, advancing to the RBI World Series in Cincinnati. Taking place just one week after the RBI Baseball World Series – the girls RBI softball team from Browns Mill came in excited to play and win it all. The program has known success, winning the World Series 8 times in the 20-year history of softball RBI World Series, including a remarkable 7 in a row from 2001-2007, and again in 2013. Unfortunately, they came up short but not without a fight! We are proud they made another appearance and wish them the best of luck of as many of the team members have begun their college careers.
At the end of the awards and recognition Braves pitchers, Mike Foltynewicz and Chris Withrow made a special appearance and took photos with each team. After the photos, all family, players, and friends got to parade around the warning track, then enjoy the Braves game!
Great job Junior Braves/RBI players and we look forward to seeing everyone back on the field in 2017!