Vote Now for Your Favorite Atlanta Braves All Star Teacher

This season Major League Baseball is partnering with Target and PEOPLE Magazine to recognize educators in our communities that make an everlasting difference in their student’s lives. One teacher will represent each of the 30 MLB teams at the 2014 All Star Game next month in Minneapolis.

After the nomination period ended, a committee narrowed down each group of nominees to three finalists for each team. Our outstanding finalists are Katherine Heidrich of Charlotte NC, Kelly Ogles of Carrolton, GA and Judy Stewart of Acworth, GA.

Kathrerine Van Heidrich has always had a strong devotion to teaching, volunteerism and community building. Katherine graduated from Brown University with a degree in African Studies and Religious Studies and chose teaching because she wanted to teach in an inner city school so she could give back to the community that gave her so much. This Braves fan makes a difference outside of the classroom as well. In 2013, Katherine heard that one of her former students was losing his home a few days before the start of school and it was due to be auctioned by a predatory lender. Katherine took to social networks and in a single day raised $12,000. She saved that family’s home, bought school supplies, clothes and reconnected their utilities.

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Kelly Ogles joined the Navy serving as its first female photographer assigned to a P-3 squadron. She returned to school to earn her bachelor’s degree, currently working on her masters, specifically focused on teaching at-risk and minority students. Each year, this Braves fan makes a scrapbook for her eighth grade class and presents it to them when they graduate high school. Students from the high school routinely visit her to thank her for her inspiration. Kelly encourages her students to take advantage of their educational opportunities. Her classroom is lined with college banners encouraging students to set a goal early in life of getting a college education and to not settle for anything less. Kelly has received several awards including Teacher of the Month and Teacher of Year and she has received local and federal grants.

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Our third finalist, Judy Stewart, has a passion for teaching and she’s always ready step up to the plate when asked. In 33 years, she’s taught almost every grade and subject at Oak Grove Elementary, from second grade computer class to ESOL (English as a second language). Changing positions, taking on new students and even giving up her class in order to better provide for her students, Judy is no stranger to sacrifice. In 1980 at the beginning of her career, Judy’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she became her primary caretaker. Judy’s influence and inspiration can be witnessed in so many ways from the gifts and visits of former students, to the dances, silly songs, hugs and tears of joy shared with grateful students.

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Each of these incredible stories truly depicts the character needed to represent the Braves this year at the 2014 All Star Game. On Monday night, we were happy to welcome Judy and Kelly to the ballpark to honor them on-field and introduce them to Braves Country with the help of Target and Braves legend John Smoltz. Unfortunately, Katherine was unable to join us, as she is in Oklahoma training young teachers.

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To vote and read more information about each of our finalists, please visit allstarteachers.com.

 

TRIVIA!! Answer the following trivia question and be the first to send your answer to bravesfoundation@braves.com for the chance to win an autographed baseball by a Braves player!

Question: The Braves will wear their military jerseys 5 times total throughout the season which will honor the different branches of the military. Which 5 military non-profit organizations will be benefiting from these special game nights?

Atlanta Braves Baseball & Softball Equipment Drive presented by RaceTrac

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We teamed up with RaceTrac and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund on Memorial Day for our annual equipment drive to support the growth of youth baseball and softball across the metro Atlanta.
Fans brought gently used baseball and softball equipment to the game and received raffle tickets for the opportunity to win autographed Braves memorabilia.
If you missed this drive, there is still time to donate to the following equipment drives taking place on June 14, July 19, and August 9 in Monument Grove. Visit braves.com/equipmentdrive for a list of items to donate. equip3

Supporting the Brave: A Memorial Day Donation Drive Benefiting the USO

In honor of Memorial Day, we asked Braves Country to donate items that will go inside military care packages assembled by the United Service Organization (USO).

Marines and Army soldiers took over Monument Grove on Memorial Day Weekend during the Braves Rockies in an effort to promote their services and collect much needed items for the troops.

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The USO provides morale, welfare, and recreational services for members of our armed forces. Stationed at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport, you’ve probably seen the USO as they welcomes soldiers home weekly when they arrive back in the USA either on rest and relaxation or military leave. This organization allows these soldiers a place to rest and eat during their layovers in the airport and spend time with their families as they arrive back home. The USO also utilizes all donations to create care packages for troops stationed overseas and domestically away from their families.

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We collected hundreds of items including napkins, utensils, paper plates, snacks and water and over $2,000 from Braves fans. These items will certainly help give our brave service men and women the warm Atlanta welcome that they deserve whether that is through a care package sent overseas or a hot meal in the USO headquarters.

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The USO will be at the Ted again on Friday, September 19 for Military Appreciation Night, with an online Braves game worn military jersey auction to follow. Please visit braves.com/charityauctions to find out more information and to support our troops!

Jerseys Off Our Back – Bidding Going on Now!

Each season, the Atlanta Braves Foundation provides fans with unique opportunities to get up close and personal with their favorite Braves players. Jerseys Off Our Backs is a once in a lifetime experience that give fans the chance to go onto the field after a game and receive the jersey RIGHT OFF THE BACK of their favorite player.

Maybe you’re a Freddie Freeman fan or an Evan Gattis fan, well place your bid today and win two (2) tickets to attend the Saturday, June 14 game vs. the Angels and the chance to be part of the on field jersey presentation.

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Oh, and did we mention that a Braves player will actually present the jersey to you on the field after the game?

Bid now through Wednesday, June 4 at braves.com/charityauctions and experience this once in a lifetime opportunity and support the Braves Foundation at the same time!

2014 Atlanta Braves Honorary Bat Girl

Each Mother’s Day, Major League Baseball honors fans who have courageously battled breast cancer by hosting its annual “Honorary Bat Girl” contest. Fans around the league are invited to submit stories of individuals that have demonstrated resilience throughout their journey.

This year Mother’s Day we celebrated Lori Smith, a courageous Braves fan who “Goes to Bat Against Breast Cancer” in her daily life. As part of our continued support in bringing awareness to this disease, we were honored to present Lori as the 2014 Atlanta Braves Honorary Bat Girl.

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Initially nominated by her twin sister, Lori was ultimately selected for her incredible journey and her strength to overcome breast cancer by a selection committee including our very own Braves first baseman, Freddie Freeman, Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants, country music superstar and Atlanta Braves fan Jason Aldean, and Sam Ryan, MLB Network host and reporter.

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Lori was only 35-years-old when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and went through 20 rounds of chemotherapy. During this time, she worked two jobs, went through chemo during her lunch hour, and would then return to work never missing a beat. After her second week of chemo, Lori decided to shave her head and proudly sported her new look everywhere. This was her way of embracing her story and showcasing her bravery and fearlessness. Cancer never slowed Lori down, as it was simply a speed bump in the road on her incredible journey. She has been cancer-free now for two and a half years and continues to go in for regular checkups. Lori is a beacon of hope for those struggling through breast cancer recovery, with her positive attitude and demeanor.

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Pam Gonzalez, wife of Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez along with Theresa Tosca, wife of Braves Coach Carlos Tosca met with Lori in the Braves Dugout before the game to present her with her very own MLB authentic pink bat engraved with her name, a pink laced baseball, and other goodies in celebration of her incredible journey. Lori was truly surprised when Freddie Freeman came out to meet her and give her one of his famous Freeman hugs. Braves pitchers Alex Wood and Kris Medlen also took the time to congratulate her.

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If you or a loved one is a breast cancer survivor, join us for the Atlanta Braves Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Sunday, September 21 at Turner Field. Visit braves.com/bcawareness to register. Survivors will receive a complementary ticket, a pre-game walk on the field, and a commemorative pink Breast Cancer Awareness t-shirt. We are so proud of Lori and all of the breast cancer survivors in Braves Country!

The Atlanta Braves present Heritage Weekend 2014

On May 2- 4  the 2nd annual Atlanta Braves Heritage Weekend celebrated Atlanta’s strong and rich history in the Civil Rights Movement and honored baseball’s role in affecting social change.

On Friday, May 2, the Annual Delta Champions for Justice Luncheon was held to recognize outstanding individuals who have made a lifelong commitment to overcoming industry obstacles and inspiring future generations. The 2014 Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Award recipients included retired NBA All Star Joe Barry Carroll, Olympic track and field gold medalists Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Edwin Moses, and civil rights legend and recipient of the Medal of Freedom, Reverend C.T. Vivian. This event benefited the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. More than 400 people came out to Turner Field to hear our honorees discuss the role of athletes in challenging discrimination and societal barriers. To culminate the luncheon, our very own Hank Aaron presented each of the honorees with the 2014 Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Award.

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Later that evening, the honorees came back to the Ted for a special reception and pre-game ceremony. The award recipients were driven around the warning track in convertibles before the game allowing fans to show their support and admiration for these individuals and for the work they have done to affect social change.

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On Saturday morning, we welcomed 200 youth ages 8-12 to the ballpark for the Heritage Weekend Youth Baseball Clinic led by Braves alumni, Johnny Estrada, Kevin Millwood, Jeff Treadway, Alejandro Pena and Titans Sports Academy. The children rotated to various stations including pitching in the bullpen, pop flies and ground balls in the outfield and hitting in the Braves batting cages. All participants were invited to return to Turner Field that evening to enjoy the Braves game.

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Later that evening we hosted a Negro League Celebration honoring 18 Negro League players during special reception and pre-game ceremony in an effort to recognize all they’ve done for the game of baseball. These players represented the different Negro League teams from around the country including the Atlanta Black Crackers, Kansas City Monarchs, Birmingham Black Barons, Louisville Clippers, Raleigh Tigers, Indianapolis Clowns and the New York Black Yankees.  We were excited to have Mr. Red Moore in attendance. He is the only living member of the Atlanta Black Crackers and at the age of 97, Mr. Moore gets around great and still looks good! The Braves and Giants players wore Atlanta Black Crackers and San Francisco Sea Lions uniforms to honor the Negro Leagues for the Heritage Game. Be sure to look for the Braves jerseys later this month online at braves.com/auctions. To round out the weekend, we capped off the night with an old school Kool and the Gang concert!

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Overall, Heritage Weekend was a huge success in celebrating Atlanta’s roots and historical importance in the integration of Major League Baseball. For more information on the Atlanta Braves Heritage Weekend please visit Braves.com/heritage and read the Heritage Weekend article featured on MLB.com at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140502&content_id=74073896&vkey=perspectives&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb.

First Annual Civil & Human Rights Education Day

On Wednesday, April 23rd, the Atlanta Braves kicked off Heritage Weekend by hosting our first annual Civil & Human Rights Education Day at Turner Field sponsored by Bank of America. This educational program, which was attended by over 600 middle and high school students, took place behind the Atlanta Braves dugout before the Wednesday’s game and focused on civil & human rights with an emphasis on baseball.

The event was hosted by Ron Gant, former Atlanta Braves All-Star and current co-host of Good Day Atlanta. The moderator was Doug Shipman, CEO for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Mr. Shipman has an extensive educational background in issues of race, ethnicity and gender including undergraduate and graduate studies in the history of American minority groups and religion.

The program covered topics including the role baseball has played in Civil Rights History, the significance of Atlanta Braves and Atlanta in Civil Rights and the role of students going forward with an emphasis on civil rights and anti-bullying. Ron Gant, first base coach Terry Pendleton, and current Braves pitcher David Hale, spoke to the students about making a difference.

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Although this is the first Civil and Human Rights Education Day, the Atlanta Braves were chosen by MLB to host the Civil Rights Game in 2011 and in 2012 where we honored the likes of Don Newcombe, the first African-American pitcher to reach 20 wins and to start a World Series game, Congressman John Lewis, who has been active in many sit-ins, freedom rides and other peaceful demonstrations and Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman. The Civil Rights Game changes cities every few years, so we introduced the Heritage Weekend in 2013 to continue honoring Atlanta’s rich Civil Rights History.

The 2014 Heritage Weekend will included the Delta Air Lines Champions Luncheon brought to you by State Farm and the Champion of Justice Award Honorees Reception presented by Grady Hospital on May 2nd. It will also include the Heritage Weekend Youth Clinic, the Negro League Reception presented by Grady Hospital and a postgame concert by Kool & the Gang presented by Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines on Saturday, May 3rd. The 2014 awardees include Joe Barry Carroll, retired NBA All Star, Jackie Joyner-Kersey, track and field Olympic legend and gold medalist, Edwin Moses, former track and field Olympic legend and gold medalist and Reverend C.T. Vivian, civil rights legend and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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All students that participated in the Civil & Human Rights Education Day received an outfield seat for the game, lunch voucher, the educational program, and free Braves Museum access that day.

Home of the Brave – Military Family Appreciation Night

The Braves honored military personnel and their families last Saturday night at the ballpark by wearing their special military appreciation jerseys and spotlighting local military families that have family members stationed overseas.

During five military appreciation nights this season, the Braves will wear their red jerseys with white stars inside blue script and partner with a military nonprofit organization. Following each of these games, the players’ and coaches’ jerseys will be autographed and auctioned online with the proceeds benefiting several military focused charities.

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Each game worn jersey from Saturday night is currently up for auction at braves.com/auctions, from now through May 9 and all proceeds will be benefit that evening’s military partner, the Wounded Warrior Project.

More than 400 of our friends from the Wounded Warrior Project attended the game on Saturday and a few lucky Warriors were selected to experience Braves batting practice up close and personal. The Braves players were just as excited to meet the guys and sign autographs for them.

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We will host four more military appreciation nights benefitting the following organizations:

June 13 Los Angeles Angels – United States Army Anniversary/Braveheart Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative

July 19 San Diego Padres – United States Marines Celebration/United Military Care

August 30 Miami Marlins – United States Navy Celebration/SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center

September 19 New York Mets – United States Air Force Anniversary/USO

Be sure to visit braves.com to place your bid and support our soldiers and their families!

Braves Care – Earth Day Cleanup at Piedmont Park

In honor of Earth Day, Braves front office staff visited the Piedmont Park Conservancy to help restore a garden that the park uses for educational purposes by removing invasive plants and trash.

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Piedmont Park Conservancy is a nonprofit organization, working with the City of Atlanta for the preservation of historic Piedmont Park. Since their start in 1989, the Conservancy has successfully restored the historic portion of Piedmont Park. The Conservancy has raised and invested more than $60 million for park beautification, maintenance/security, programs, and also includes a 53-acre expansion of green space. The Piedmont Park Conservancy has also successfully transformed the once dilapidated park into the most visited green space in Atlanta.

When we arrived, the garden had a ton of built up weeds and dead plants that were completely taking over the space. During our visit, we helped remove the plants and trash that were damaging the crops and made the garden a more desirable place for visitors to enjoy. The garden manager, Mary, was eager to educate us on all the different plants in the garden, invasive ones as well as productive ones. Mary gave us a tutorial on each crop that she has planted in the garden and what it requires to help each one grow. We learned how butterflies and worms are an important part of a gardens growth and even got to try mint leaves and thyme right off the vine!

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By the time our visit at the park had come to a close, Mary’s garden and Piedmont Park looked completely transformed. We did our part to make an impact on the community for Earth Day, make sure you get out there and make a difference in preserving Braves Country!

To learn more about the Piedmont Park Conservancy, please visit: http://www.piedmontpark.org/conservancy.html

A Tribute to 42 – Jackie Robinson Invitational Tournament

The sun wasn’t even up yet when teams arrived early, warmed up their arms and took some practice cuts in the batting cages for the 3rd annual Jackie Robinson Invitational Tournament presented by Delta Air Lines on Saturday, April 12th,  at the Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy at The Villages at Carver Family YMCA.

We invited 16 local recreational teams to compete in this baseball and softball tournament for kids ages 5-12. New this year, we welcomed girls softball to the tournament, a first for the annual event, and participants were able to channel their creative side by submitting a short essay, piece of artwork or poetry depicting how Jackie Robinson’s legacy had inspired them in the “Tribute to 42” contest.

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The single elimination style tournament consisted of four teams in each age bracket, with a consolation game and a championship game.

Volunteers from Delta, Georgia State University, and the Braves 400 Club Fan Club all pitched in to help in keeping score of each game and answering questions from spectators and parents.

After all four teams in each age division had played one game, everyone headed to the John Smoltz Field for the Welcoming Ceremony and Team Pictures. Former Braves outfielder, Terry Harper spoke about how important it is for the kids to pursue their dreams and work hard to become the best they can possibly be and reiterated the importance of preserving the legacy of one of the most inspirational baseball players of all time. Delta Air Lines representative Perry Sloan spoke on behalf of Delta and their strong commitment to youth and the community. Finally the time had come to announce the “Tribute to 42” contest winners for their exceptional artwork, poetry, and essays. We are proud to congratulate our winners once again, Eric Hairston and Kenneth Hubbard of the Sandtown Red Sox, and Noah Tyler, Kadin Odum, and Joshua Sibley of the Sharpsburg Astros. Thank you for your hard work and congratulations again!

Each team went straight back into the competition, playing their consolation or championship games. At the end of the tournament, youth ages 5-8 participated in the Pitch, Hit, and Run skills competition where they were able to test their pitching abilities, base running, and homerun swings. Our Homerun Derby champions were Traquan Johnson and Victor Buchanan, Fleet Feet Base Running Champions were Jeremiah Francis and Bryce Hicks, and our Golden Arm Pitching Champions were Khmari Muhammad and Keymond Maze.

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As the tournament came to a close, all teams and their families headed to Turner Field to participate in a pre-game parade. The winners of the skills contest and the “Tribute to 42” contest were honored on field before 30,000 Braves fans. Each winner stood proud as they waved to the crowd after hearing their names at Turner Field and showed off their awards.

This will be a memory the participants, volunteers and our staff will never forget. These young baseball and softball players had the opportunity to participate in an exciting day of tournament fun while celebrating the life and legacy of #42, Jackie Robinson.

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