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.
This school year, we partnered with Everybody Wins! Atlanta, a nonprofit on a mission to improve children’s literacy and develop the reading skills of students in low-income elementary schools. We joined their “Power Lunch” mentoring program at Brumby Elementary School, where we go into the school once a week to read to a child during their lunch hour. Braves staff has had a great time building long-lasting relationships with their mentees, and look forward to watching them build their reading skills throughout the year!
Over the past few weeks, the Community Affairs Department has been attending the Opening Day festivities of youth baseball and softball leagues around Metro Atlanta to promote Play Ball! Atlanta.
Play Ball! Atlanta is designed to increase participation in the game of baseball and softball (and related activities) through various grassroots initiatives and show the Braves’ commitment to the community through special appearances at youth league baseball and softball games.
Braves mascot, Homer, has been on site to lead parades, pose for pictures and energize the players. The Braves B.A.T. Team, provides pitching and batting inflatables and Braves-themed giveaways. At Sharpsburg Youth Baseball, Braves alumni, Johnny Estrada, threw out the ceremonial first pitch!
At each Play Ball! Atlanta Community Stop, we host a drive for gently used baseball and softball equipment in partnership with Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF). BTF is a Major League Baseball initiative that supports the growth of youth baseball and softball in communities that need additional support. They provide grants for better playing fields, equipment and uniforms. Every person who donates is entered into a drawing for a chance to win Braves autographed memorabilia.
Thank you to our league hosts – Murphey Candler Little League, Kennesaw Baseball Association, North Gwinnett Baseball/Softball Association, Druid Hills Youth Sports, Sharpsburg Youth Baseball – and to all community members who have donated to the Baseball Tomorrow Fund equipment drive!
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!
Braves baseball is back! We arrived early to the Atlanta Braves spring training camp at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida to give you all of the behind-the-scenes details.
During spring training, the Braves Foundation staff works directly with your favorite Braves players to facilitate autograph signings for items that are used throughout the year to raise money for local charities. These autographed items are used in silent auctions at all Braves home games and in online auctions year-round.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman shared with us during his autograph signing why he feels it is important to be an active part of the community.
“I like to give back because I grew up in a family that gave back all of the time,” Freeman said. “I think it has kind of gotten instilled in me to help give back and help the community out. I have been in Atlanta for five years now, and I think it is important to help out as much as I can.”
As we secure these autographs, an MLB Authenticator applies a sticker to each item indicating that they are part of the MLB Authentication Program. A unique serial number for each items allows collectors to cross reference product against the database on MLB.
Make sure to check out our online auction going on now at www.braves.com/charityauctions to place your bid on unique memorabilia. Also, stop by one of our silent auction booths at Turner Field starting in April!
We will see you Opening Day!
Do you know a brave person who has beaten or is fighting breast cancer?
Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves are looking for our 2016 Honorary Bat Girl. On Mother’s Day, we will honor one (1) Braves fan who has or is currently courageously battling breast cancer. The Honorary Bat Girl program raises awareness and funds while celebrating our heroic fans.
TODAY through April 14, submit a story about how you or someone you know is “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” and why they deserve to be the 2016 Atlanta Braves’ Honorary Bat Girl. Once you have submitted a story, encourage family and friends to vote!
One (1) Honorary Bat Girl will be selected and invited to Turner Field for a VIP experience on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 8, for the Braves vs. Arizona Diamondbacks 1:35 p.m. game.
The winner will receive four (4) game tickets, a Louisville Slugger pink engraved bat and a commemorative jersey.
To learn more, submit a story, and to vote, visit: http://www.honorarybatgirl.com.
Today we participated in the Anti-Defamation League’s Read 4 Respect program at one of our partner schools, DH Stanton Elementary School. Read 4 Respect connects local businesses and volunteers to elementary schools by engaging them in reading books that promote respect. Read 4 Respect is a part of ADL’s nationwide campaign, No Place for Hate, and is designed to get adults and kids talking to each other about how we can put an end to name-calling and bullying—and to start that conversation at an early age.
We read stories to 3rd graders that dealt with diversity and accepting everyone despite our differences. The students learned a lot about how to respect one another and how to be an “ally” to their peers that might be experiencing bullying in the classroom.
We look forward to more fun and educational activities with the ADL as we work to make Braves Country No Place for Hate!
From winning the College Baseball World Series in a Vanderbilt jersey, being named the MVP of said series to being drafted first overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks and traded within a year to the hometown Atlanta Braves, Dansby Swanson has had a heck of a 2015/2016 year. We caught up with the future star to get his reaction to his first Braves FanFest, how it feels to be home, and what his favorite past times are. This is an inside look into Dansby Swanson!
- How was your first FanFest experience?
I thought fan fest this year was phenomenal. I’m grateful to have gotten the opportunity to represent Atlanta, and meet all of its loyal fans. It is always nice for any player get to know the people that cheer for them and vice versa.
- We know you are from Kennesaw, GA how does it feel to one day be playing for the Hometown team?
About as close to a dream come true as you can be. Being back in Atlanta, and playing for the Braves is something I grew up thinking about and wishing it would happen, now it’s here.
- How many autographs do you think you signed at FanFest?
I signed as many as I could in the time constraints that we had! It was a pleasure signing autographs for all of the fans that spent their time to come see us. I’m grateful and thankful that there were people that think enough of us to come get signatures. I’m looking forward to seeing them again!
- What do you enjoy doing when you’re not playing baseball?
I enjoy watching sports and being with my friends. I value relationships and people, and am very passionate about sports. I could talk about it all the time if other people cared to listen!
5. Who was your favorite Braves player growing up and why?
I would have to say Chipper Jones because he was the face of the Braves, and one of the all-time greats to play the game.
Well, there you have it! Be on the lookout for one of the Braves rising stars!
Braves fans all pitched in to Spread the Warmth in the Atlanta community by cleaning out their closets and donating gently used clothing and cold weather accessories to our Spread the Warmth Winter Clothing Drive!
We collected an overwhelming amount of items at Braves FanFest Saturday, which will aid hundreds of homeless men, women, and children at the Atlanta Mission during the cold winter months. Thank you, Braves Country, for always going above and beyond to make our community great!