Rick Rizzs, Jay Buhner and volunteers from 18 Seattle area social service agencies and charities gathered before sunrise at the Toys R Us in Bellevue Tuesday to spend $250,000 on gifts to brighten the holidays for children across the region.
Toys for Kids started as a good idea over 17 years ago when Rizzs, Buhner, Dave Henderson and several other former Mariners players passed the hat to help needy families. Today, that act of goodwill has grown into a non-profit organization that provides holiday cheer to more than 6,000 children each year.
Various fundraising efforts over the year culminate in a shopping spree at Toys R Us. Volunteers from organizations such as Atlantic Street Center, Broadview Women’s Shelter, Harborview Medical Center, Union Gospel Mission Family Services, and Vision House swarm the store beginning at 6am, lists in hand, to buy gifts for kids who might not otherwise receive one.
Maria Ochoa-Meyers, who was shopping for Communities in Schools of Renton, was looking for art supplies and Barbies. Although the ghoulish Monster High dolls are increasingly popular, “girls still like Barbie,” she said.
A team from Atlantic Street Center turned out in red Mariners T-shirts to fill the wish lists of 1,500 kids. By 6:45am, they had already filled to overflowing 23 shopping carts, with more to go.
Next Thursday and Saturday Santa Moose, Rick Rizzs, and some surprise guests will start delivering the gifts at parties at Seattle Ronald McDonald House and Harborview Medical Center.
It’s not too late to help out. You can make a tax deductible donation online at RicksToysForKids.org, or you can find out how to give some or all of the proceeds from your sales on ebay to help the cause.
The 13th annual Toys for Kids Dinner and Auction was held on Saturday at the Harbor Club in Bellevue, and raised over $200,000 to help homeless and disadvantaged kids this Christmas.
The annual event is hosted by Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs and former player Dave Henderson, with the help of the Mariners RBI Club.
Several former Mariners players were in attendance to help raise money, including Bill Krueger, Dan Wilson and John Olerud. Current Mariners outfielder Raul Ibañez also took part in the event and there was a surprise appearance from Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
The Seattle Mariners RBI Club awarded Eric and Kate Wedge the Al “Moose” Clausen Community Service Award, an annual award given during our dinner and auction to a past or present member of the Mariners organization who has made a significant contribution to the community.
With all the money raised, Rizzs and an entourage of shoppers start clearing shelves at local toy stores beginning December 4. We’ll have an update on this blog after the first few shopping events. Thanks for all the helped raise money for a wonderful charity!
For the third year in a row, the Mariners Grounds Crew (yes, those dancing grounds crew members) will be holding a coat drive to help people in need during the winter months. The group led by head groundskeeper Bob Christofferson gathered 976 coast for kids and adults last year, and are hoping to reach 1,000 coats this year. New and used coats are welcome, and they will go to Battered Women’s shelter and the YWCA.
If you have a coat or two laying around that you could donate, Bob and his crew would love to find a home for it. You can drop it off at the front desk of Safeco Field (Third Base Entrance, 1250 First Avenue South). The deadline is December 14.
Yesterday was a busy day with Hisashi Iwakuma selected as a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award and the Mariners naming Lloyd McClendon manager. Perhaps the best news of the day (while the other two were certainly great) came when Raul Ibañez was named the Hutch Award Winner.
The award is given each year to an MLB player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of baseball great Fred Hutchinson, both on and off the field. Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew will give the Hutch Award Luncheon’s keynote address; proceeds from the event will benefit cancer research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Ibañez will receive the 49th annual Hutch Award® at a Jan. 30 luncheon at Seattle’s Safeco Field.
Ibañez has received the MLB Players Association Heart & Hustle Award three times and has four times been the Mariners nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s highest honor for community service. The Sporting News named Ibañez one the “Good Guys” in sports and he also received the Tug McGraw Good Guy Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the BBWAA.
Ibañez is as widely respected for his accomplishments on the field as he is for his character, leadership and community involvement.
His many community activities include chairing the annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament; supporting Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program, which works to make books available to at-risk children throughout the state of Washington; and involvement with Make-A-Wish®, Boys & Girls Clubs, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Treehouse, Covenant House Pennsylvania and Project H.O.M.E.
He also serves as a spokesman for “Refuse to Abuse,” the Mariners’ unique partnership with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The program raises awareness of violence in intimate relationships through public service announcements in both English and Spanish.
The slogan for the Mariners non-profit foundation Mariners Care is “a side of Mariners Baseball you don’t always see.” And it’s true. The foundation and our corporate partners are involved in fundraising efforts each year, some more visible than others, with all the proceeds going to support primarily youth-oriented community service programs across the Northwest.
This year, the total for all Mariners Care activities was over $1.3 million. When you add that to the efforts since 2000, Mariners care has generated over $14.8 million to help a variety of charitable programs, everything from Seattle Children’s Hospital to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
We also owe you, the fans, many thanks, because you helped make it happen with your bids on silent auctions of memorabilia at Saturday home games, your entry fees to play at the annual Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament and your donations of new and used baseball and softball equipment to the Baseball Tomorrow Fund.
In 2013, the Mariners Care activities also include the All-Star Celebrity Softball Classic that raised over $1.2 million to benefit services for homeless youth in King County. The game, which will be an annual event, was staged by United Way of King County and the Seattle Mariners, with teams captained by Mariners Hall of Famers Dan Wilson and Jay Buhner.
Mariners Chair and CEO Howard Lincoln has set the bar high for the organization to make a positive and lasting impact on our community. For the last three years, the Mariners Front Office has reached 100% participation in the United Way giving campaign, and every Mariners player participates in and supports various community programs and causes.
“It’s a side of Mariners Baseball you don’t always see.”
The main message of the day, Mariners Head Athletic Trainer Rick Griffin explained to a group of local kids, is to “get active, eat proper and take care of your bodies.” With that lesson, this year’s PLAY Campaign event at Safeco Field began on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
Since 2004, the PLAY Campaign—Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth—has been run by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) in order to raise awareness about children’s health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States. Working with the Taylor Hooton Foundation, MLB Charities, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the PLAY Campaign educates youth about the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle, as well as important decision-making skills regarding performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
At this year’s event, kids from the Seattle RBI League and the Rainier Vista, Redmond/Sammamish and Federal Way Boys & Girls Clubs were in attendance. The event was run by Mariners Athletic Trainers Griffin, Rob Nodine and Mattew Toth, and by Mariners players Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Brad Miller and Michael Morse.
The afternoon event began with the athletic trainers and players addressing the kids and answering a few questions. Before the kids broke into smaller groups to visit different stations, Brian Parker from the Taylor Hooton Foundation spoke about the dangers of PEDs. Parker explained to the group what steroids were and how they affected both the bodies of boys and girls.
“On the outside it does work,” Parker said. “But you can’t see what happens in your body….Everything inside you is under attack.”
The kids then broke up into three groups to rotate stations manned by the Mariners players and athletic trainers. The stations touched on a variety of different topics such as warm-up exercises, strength and conditioning, and education about the dangers of steroid abuse. The Mariners athletic trainers designed the different activities at the stations and the kids were able to try many of the exercises that the players do during Spring Training and during their own pregame warm-up activities. For example, Franklin and Griffin led their groups in agility and footwork exercises, Morse and Nodine led warm-up exercises, and Furbush, Miller and Toth organized relay races.
“Before we play games we come here to the same spot and warm up,” Morse told his group before leading them in some drills by the foul line in right field. Furbush and Miller cheered on their group as the kids raced each other in the outfield, and Franklin demonstrated the different footwork exercises that the kids would be trying. But the small group activities also provided the kids with time to ask players questions as well.
Representatives from the Mariners corporate sponsor Subway were at Safeco for the event to provide lunch and branded baseballs for the kids in attendance. Before the kids got receive autographs from the Mariners players, they each signed a pledge that Subway provided, promising that they would live a healthy, active and drug-free lifestyle.
This year, the PLAY Campaign will travel to all 30 MLB stadiums and educate over 2000 young people.
Sam Radbil, the PLAY Campaign Coordinator, advised kids to, “Get outside every day and play with your friends and run around. Make sure to get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day.”
“The event with the Mariners is one of the best we have” he added.
- Caitlin Doxsie, Mariners PR Intern
Mariners Outfielder Raul Ibañez has been nominated for the prestigious Branch Rickey Award which recognizes MLB players for their community service.
Ibañez, who is on his third tour with the Mariners, has always been active in community programs. He was one of the co-chairs of the annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament, which raised $220,000 this year. During his career with the Mariners, Raul has hosted the charity tournament six times. Over those years, the event has raised over $1.176 million for CF research.
Ibañez has also served as spokesman for the Mariners Refuse to Abuse® partnership with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and is an active participant in Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions.
Over his career, Raul has also supported a number of local charities and non-profits including Boys & Girls Clubs, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Esperanza, Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program, Volunteers of America, Teammates For Kids Foundation, Olive Crest, Treehouse, Canine Companions For Independence, Covenant House Pennsylvania, and Project H.O.M.E.
Raul was the Mariners nominee and local winner for the Roberto Clemente Award for three consecutive seasons from 2006-2008. In 2006, Raul was also named by Sporting News as one of the “Good Guys” in sports and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball Players Association’s “Heart & Hustle” Award. In 2011, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, he received the Tug McGraw Good Guy Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Former Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer won the Branch Rickey Award in 2004, and R.A. Dickey, who pitched for the Mariners in 2008, received the honor in 2012.
The annual Branch Rickey Award is named for the former Brooklyn Dodgers executive credited with breaking baseball’s color line in 1945 when he signed Jackie Robinson to his first MLB contract. The award is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Denver. The chief benefactor of the annual banquet is Denver Kids, Inc., a program that counsels and mentors at-risk youth in Denver Public Schoools.
Hayley Loffer, a 12-year old girl from Hayden, in north Idaho, has won a trip to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game as one of the top finishers in her age group in Pitch, Hit & Run, MLB’s annual skills competition.
Hayley will now compete against two other top qualifiers in the 11-12 Year Old Girls Division on July 15, just before the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Citi Field in New York. Pitch, Hit & Run competitors then get to stay on the field and shag balls during the derby.
Loffer earned her spot at the national finals by placing first in her age division at the Team Championships at Safeco Field on June 23, and then having one of the top three scores among all competitors in her age division.
Loffer, who will be entering 8th grade at Canfield Middle School in Coeur d’Alene next fall, has placed first in her age division the last three years at the Team Championship round at Safeco Field, but this is the first year that her scores were high enough to advance to the National Championship.
Loffer is currently competing in the Sparkler Youth Fast-Pitch Tournament in Hyland Hills, Colorado.
More than 600,000 youth participated in over 4,000 competitions that took place across North America. Scotts, the “Official Lawn Care Company of Major League Baseball,” is in its first year sponsoring the grassroots program.
Several Mariners players, coaches, broadcasters and front office staff members were out at TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge today to help raise money for the 28th Annual Mariners Care Golf Tournament to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Tournament co-chairs Raul Ibañez and Justin Smoak carted around the course hitting shots with all the groups and taking pictures. Additional participants in the tournament included current players Brendan Ryan, Blake Beavan, Joe Saunders, Tom Wilhelmsen, Carter Capps, Charlie Furbush, Nick Franklin and Danny Farquhar, former Mariners Dan Wilson, Dave Valle, Dave Henderson, Brian Hunter and Brian Holman, coaches Daren Brown, Scott Budner, Jason Phillips, Mike Brumley and Dave Hansen, broadcasters Rick Rizzs and Dave Sims and front office staff members Jack Zduriencik and Tom McNamara. Manager Eric Wedge and his wife Kate were also carting around the course shaking hands and sharing smiles.
[Update] We just received a wonderful update that yesterday’s tournament and dinner/auction raised $220,000, bringing the 28-year total to $5.1 million raised for Cystic Fibrosis. Thank you so much for all the wonderful donations and to all the sponsors!
The top celebrity group was led by Joe Saunders (Pepsi) and Charlie Furbush had the celebrity closest to the pin.
And a big thank you to tournament co-chairs Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak. This was the 6th year that Raul has hosted the tournament, with the event raising $1,176,000 in those years (2004-08, 2013). This was the second year for Smoak to be involved with the charity, and the event has raised $440,000.
Here are some photos from the (sometimes rainy) day on the golf course…all to help raise money for a great cause!
Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders treated a group of Seattle Children’s Hospital patients and their families to a “suite” experience at Safeco Field on Monday.
Saunders and his wife Shanel, through their charitable foundation Team Saundo, have purchased a suite for seven Mariners games, and are inviting patients and families from Children’s, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Seattle’s Ronald McDonald House to enjoy a day at the ballpark on them.
Monday’s group, all clad in Team Saundo T-shirts, got to go down on field pregame, where they met Joe Saunders. He took them into the Mariners dugout and gave the kids sugar-free bubblegum and sunflower seeds from the players’ stash. Everybody posed for photos on the field and at the dugout rail, then Team Saundo made its way to Suite 19 for the game.
Saunders and Shanel started Team Saundo in 2007 to make a positive impact on the lives of children by supporting initiatives focused on children’s health and well-being, education and involvement in sports.
In each of Saunders’ Major League stops (Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, and now Seattle Mariners), Team Saundo has contributed to the community. (710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer wrote a nice story about Joe’s activities in a recent blog post.)
The next Team Saundo suite game will be June 23 when the Mariners meet the Oakland A’s.