During the 2013 season, the Atlanta Braves and Kroger partnered to host Strike Out Hunger. This community initiative raised awareness on the disparity of hunger in Georgia and resources 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.
Friday Nights at Turner Field were known as Strike Out Hunger Night. Braves Fans made canned food and monetary donations to support the Atlanta Community Food Bank. In exchange for their contributions fans received autographs from current Braves pitchers. Additionally, several Braves Alumni, including Javy Lopez, Charlie Leibrandt, Jim Nash, Terry Pendleton, and Greg McMichael supported this initiative at various Kroger locations by signing autographs for fans that made donations to the Strike Out Hunger initiative.
Strike Out Hunger was a huge success due to the team effort of our partner Kroger, fans all over Braves Country, Braves alumni, and Braves pitchers including Tim Hudson, Jonny Venters, Luis Avilan, Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen, Alex Wood, Jordan Walden, Julio Tehran, Paul Maholm, Luis Ayala, Anthony Varvaro, and Freddy Garcia.
To cap off a successful season, Braves pitcher Tim Hudson and Kroger representative Glen Jenkins, presented a check to Sara Fonder-Kristy of the Atlanta Community Food Bank on the field before the final home game of this season. Strike Out Hunger resulted in the collection of 9,228 pounds of food and $10,247 to assist the Atlanta Community Food Bank in providing healthy meals to Georgia families in need.
On Saturday, September 28th, twelve of the Atlanta Braves top prospects volunteered their time to put on a free baseball clinic for kids ages 8-12. The Atlanta Braves organizational pitchers and players of the year are tasked with a community service project every year, this year they chose to put on a baseball skills clinic at the Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy located at the Carver YMCA.
The following Future Stars participated in the clinic: Tommy La Stella, Mississippi Braves; Robby Hefflinger, Lynchburg Hillcats; Shae Simmons and Jose Peraza, Rome Braves; Andrew Waszak and Victor Caratini, Danville Braves; Oriel Caicedo and Victor Reyes, Gulf Coast League Braves; Felix Falcon and Kelvin Esteves, Dominican Summer League; overall organizational player of the year Josh Elander, Rome Braves and Lynchburg Hillcats and overall organizational pitcher of the year, Luke Sims; Rome Braves.
The youth baseball players cycled through various stations focusing on hitting, base running, pop flies, and fielding. Following their rotation through all of the stations, all of the athletes lined up to receive Atlanta Braves goody bags, complete with a hat and foam tomahawk, before filing through the autograph line, and picking up their tickets to one of the two final home games of the regular season.
As part of the Braves Wives commitment to make an impact in the metro Atlanta community, the group hosted an auction featuring gift baskets containing the favorite things of the Atlanta Braves players. The proceeds from the auction benefitted the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” initiative. This program empowers schools and communities to tackle prejudice, bullying, and intergroup conflict and educates youth on speaking out against bullying.
On September 13, prior to the Braves vs. Padres game, the Braves Wives greeted and encouraged fans to place bids on the elaborate gift baskets. The auction featured favorite things from Braves players Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton, BJ Upton, Anthony Varvaro, Dan Uggla, Chris Johnson, Freddie Freeman, Reed Johnson, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Paul Maholm, Jordan Schafer, Evan Gattis, Tim Hudson, Paul Janish, Joey Terdoslavich, and Manager Fredi Gonzalez. These eye-catching baskets included snacks, movies, wine bottles, cleats, books, restaurants gift cards, autographed memorabilia and more.
The highest selling gift basket contained Craig Kimbrel’s favorite things, including his jersey from the 2013 All-Star Game, gift cards to Cracker Barrel and Bass Pro Shop, Blue Cheese Olives, and more. Kimbrel’s basket sold for a final bid of $1,025.
Kris Medlen’s favorite things were packaged a little different than the rest, his came in a large blue cooler. His favorite things included a Freddie Freeman bobblehead, autographed cleats, a copy of Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, and the Breaking Bad DVD collection. His basket raised $850 for “No Place for Hate.”
The Braves Wives raised a total of $7,900 and would like to thank all the Braves Fans for their generous support of their auction and the “No Place for Hate” initiative.
Since 2007, the Braves 400 Fan Club has worked with the Atlanta Braves Foundation’s Reach Out, Be Our Guest program to provide special experiences for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise be able to attend a Braves game. Thanks to the 400 Club’s generosity, five groups were able to come to a Turner Field, watch batting practice from behind the Braves dugout, and enjoy a Chick-fil-A dinner before heading to their seats to enjoy the game. The groups that participated in this year’s programs were: Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, Friends of Refugees, Cobb County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, City of Refuge, and Mission on the Move. Special thanks to Braves 400 Club Members Lynn Walley, Lynn Camp, Mary Lou Brooks, Jean Berken, and Dave and Nancy Badertscher for hosting these groups.
Below are photos from various group visits:
On Saturday, September 14th, the Atlanta Braves partnered with Kroger, WellStar, and the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for the seventh Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The day-long celebration of survivorship honored those who have courageously battled breast cancer, and raised awareness and funds to support research, education and advocacy for cancer patients and their families throughout Braves Country.
Breast Cancer survivors, friends, and family members were invited to a pre-game reception and were welcomed by Laura Taylor – Breast Nurse Navigator at WellStar Douglas Hospital and Crystal Mantooth – Sr. Director of Community Events with American Cancer Society, and featuring guest speaker Shondia McFadden-Sabari, Executive Director of BOLDANDBREASTLESS, Inc. Shondia has been featured in national and local outlets such as Essence Magazine and Huffington Post. In 2011, at age 36, Shondia was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. She chose not to have reconstructive surgery because she feels that life is all the really matters. Shondia shares her story with countless women around the United States in an effort to encourage early detection and to provide support and hope to other survivors.
To close out the reception, Braves Pitcher, David Carpenter, helped recognize our Diamond of Hope award winners. This year inspirational survivors who have engaged in the fight against breast cancer or assisted other survivors through their difficult struggle were honored.
This incredible event would not have been possible without the help of volunteers from the Braves 400 Fan Club, Georgia State University, and the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
Following the reception, more than 300 Breast Cancer survivors, participated in a moving on-field ceremony that ended with a balloon release representing the hope that a cure for Breast Cancer will be found. Joining the survivors on the field was Braves catcher Evan Gattis, who stood with Leticia Reinke, wife of his college baseball coach.
2013 Diamond of Hope Winners:
Erma Killings nominated by her son, Justin, and friend Ruby for being an inspiration to others diagnosed with Breast Cancer and not once letting the cancer dull her light.
Jennifer Wachacha nominated by her sister, Lovedy Paige Gross, for her outstanding dedication to fundraising for research and eventually a cure for Breast Cancer.
Christa McArthur nominated by her husband, David, for not missing a step when she was diagnosed, continuing her work as an oncology nurse and even mixing her own chemo on occasion.
TeMaya Eatmon nominated by Stacey Chavis for making it her personal mission to change the face of Breast Cancer so that younger women are made more aware of symptoms and signs for early detection.
Shondia McFadden-Sabari nominated by the Braves Community Affairs department for her outstanding work to generate awareness in the metro Atlanta area.
In its fifth year, the Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Classic presented by Bank of America, brought together young baseball teams from all across the Southeast to compete in a round robin/bracket style tournament. Due to the success and popularity of the program since our humble beginnings of 32 teams, the Youth Baseball Classic moved locations to Wills Park in Alpharetta, GA. The change in venue allowed the event to accommodate 24 additional teams of ball players ages 5 – 13.
Teams traveled from as far as South Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina to compete in the classic. Upon check-in they received goody bags, complete with hats, tomahawks, and t-shirts. Round play for the older teams began on Friday night and continued into Saturday morning. The first games on Saturday started bright and early, 7:00 am to be exact, and the field lights had to be turned on for those teams.
At noon on Saturday, the athletes had a group of special visitors including Alpharetta City Council Member Jim Gilvin, Mike Perry, Director of Recreation and Parks, Ben Easterling, Chair of the Alpharetta Recreation Commission, Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Alex Wood, and of course, Homer the Brave! Participating teams then took team photos with Alex Wood before the skills competition for the 5/6 and 7/8 age divisions and one last game for the older teams. Athletes also had a chance to visit with former Braves star Brian Jordan and purchase autographed copies of his children’s books.
Saturday had even more in store for the athletes, friends, and families – including tickets to that night’s matchup against the Miami Marlins complete with a pregame parade. Sunday, the final day of the tournament, promised a slightly later start time and a higher level of competition – the championship games loomed at the end of the afternoon. The last game and trophy presentation wrapped up just before a lovely sunset appropriately capped off the 5th Youth Baseball Classic.
The 5th Annual Youth Baseball Classic was a huge success, and would not have been possible without the help of volunteer scorekeepers from the Braves 400 Fan Club, Georgia State University, and Bank of America Georgia.
13 Division: Upstate Showcase
11/12 Division: South Georgia Elite
9/10 Division: East Cobb Braves
7/8 Division: Bandits
5/6 Division: Warriors Orange
7/8 Base Running: Caden High – South Gwinnett Rattlers
7/8 Golden Arm: Mason Ray – Northport Rage
7/8 Home Run Derby – Walker Westmoreland – Macon Impact
5/6 Base Running: Steele Ingram – Warriors Orange
5/6 Base Golden Arm: Riley McCallum – North Macon All-Stars Blue
5/6 Home Run Derby: Cole Carr – North Macon All-Stars Blue
The Atlanta Braves teamed up with Chick-fil-A to reward students throughout the Southeast for academic excellence through the All Star Student Achiever program. In 2013 the program reached over 3,500 schools in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina – over 16,000 tickets were redeemed. Each student who participated received two free tickets to a Braves game, a voucher for a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, and the chance to return to Turner Field in late August for on-field recognition.
On Tuesday, August 27th, six students were recognized before that night’s matchup against the Indians. Up first was Samiriam Wyatt from Woodson Primary School, Randall Bailey from Central Elementary School, Azeez Bello from Mohammed Schools, Nirvanie Persaud from Crews Middle School, Steven Jesky from White County Middle School, and Akeelah Jones from D.H. Stanton Elementary School. They received their award from Robin Lomax with Chick-fil-A and Braves pitcher Paul Maholm.
The Miracle League and Atlanta Braves both believe that “every child deserves to play baseball,” so one can imagine how excited both organizations were when Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids reached out interested in facilitating a Fantasy Camp specifically for Miracle League players.
The invitation was sent out to Miracle League teams from parks all over Braves Country, and participants showed up from as far away as North Carolina, Augusta, and Macon. The camp was held on Saturday, August 17th at Hunter Memorial Park in Douglasville.
Players arrived at the park at 10 am for check-in and were surprised to receive their very own, personalized Atlanta Braves jersey. The jerseys weren’t the only surprise in store for the Miracle League athletes, as the Mayor of Douglasville made a special stop as well! Mayor Harvey Persons then introduced the Braves special guests – starting with our very own Homer the Brave! Up next were Braves pitchers Alex Wood and Anthony Varvaro, followed by utility man Paul Janish, then Strength and Conditioning coach Phil Falco.
Before the skills fun could get started, Coach Falco made sure everyone was properly stretched out and ready. Participants were then broken into groups where they rotated from station to station. Alex Wood led the hitting station – participants hit from a tee on the pitcher’s mound into the fence behind homeplate. From there they moved to left field where Anthony Varvaro and volunteers from 5 Tool Sports Training Center in Douglasville helped athletes perfect the art of fielding a ground ball.
Shortly after fielding ground balls, the athletes moved over to the pop fly station. Infielder Paul Janish showed athletes how to properly hold their glove when catching pop flies. Last, but certainly not least, the athletes worked with Coach Falco and Douglas County High School Baseball Head Coach Alex Duhaime to teach the athletes the proper way to play catch.
To close out the clinic, participants all lined up to make a trip around the bases before enjoying lunch. In addition to their jerseys, all participants received an Atlanta Braves goody bag and tickets to that night’s matchup against the Washington Nationals.
On Wednesday, August 14th the Atlanta Braves, PNC Bank, City of Refuge, The Fernbank Museum, and the Woodruff Arts Center Young Audiences program teamed up to teach 50 kids from Sheltering Arms Child Care about where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices. PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great initiative helps prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life.
Children from Sheltering Arms arrived at City of Refuge bright and early to get started; the kids sat down in the gym and heard from PNC’s Regional President, Eddie Meyers and Atlanta Braves General Manager Frank Wren. They were then divided into groups and sent off to their stations accompanied by Braves mascot Homer. The first station was led by City of Refuge’s Chad Angell. Chad taught the kids where the juice they enjoy comes from and how different fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and celery can be used to make juice that’s delicious and nutritious. He then took the kids out to feed the fish in the greenhouse before they moved on to the raised bed areas.
Greg Sluder, the director of City of Refuge’s Eden Garden, showed the kids how to harvest peppers and plant spices that will be used in City of Refuge’s 180 Kitchen. The kids also dug for worms and picked cherry tomatoes while in the garden. After a quick water break, they went back inside to the Fernbank Museum’s exhibit about Decomposers. The Fernbank brought out hissing cockroaches and a tub of dirt made entirely by worms! A few brave kids even held the worms.
After they finished playing with worms and cockroaches, the kids went to meet Holly Stevenson, a Young Audiences storyteller and actress. Holly read the kids a story about gardening and had them join in an interactive story telling experience.
Everyone then washed their hands and headed into the dining hall for a delicious lunch provided by Goldberg’s Deli with a side of Go Go Squeeze Applesauce.
To round out the day, Braves pitcher, David Carpenter, spoke to the children about how important it is to eat well and play outside.