Every baseball season there are two holidays that I look forward to celebrating with my colleagues and our fans. The first, Opening Day at Marlins Park. You can literally feel the energy surging through you in anticipation for an awesome season to come. The second, Jackie Robinson Day. Every year Jackie Robinson’s legacy is memorialized by Major League Baseball on April 15, which marks the anniversary of when the Hall of Famer broke baseball’s color barrier with his first major league game with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. During this day we are reminded that baseball is more than just a game, it serves as a common bond for all people, regardless of race. One man, through his perseverance, heart and values trail-blazed history for many other minority players to enjoy the game of baseball. Reliving history through video clips, photos and presentations on this MLB holiday makes you reflect on how far we have come and how you can make a difference just by standing up for what is right.
The Marlins saluted Jackie Robinson’s heroism and legacy with Marlins President of Baseball Operations, Michael Hill, Marlins Senior Vice President and Legal Council, Derek Jackson, and Marlins Vice President and Executive Director of the Marlins Foundation, Alfredo Mesa, presenting a check for $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The check was accepted by Christina Gordon, current Jackie Robinson Scholar attending the University of Miami, Carol Guerrero, Jackie Robinson Scholar Alumni, and Curtis Tearte, Jackie Robinson Foundation Committee Member. During a special pre-game presentation the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project boys presented their favorite Jackie Robinson core value: COURAGE, DETERMINATION, TEAMWORK, PERSISTENCE, INTEGRITY, CITIZENSHIP, JUSTICE, COMMITMENT AND EXCELLENCE. These words were values that Jackie Robinson lived by. These values not only made him a champion, but also a hero to millions of people. 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project boys represents these values everyday through their program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. During the inning breaks on Marlins Vision, the Marlins shared interviews with Marlins players and a few RBI kids, highlighting what it means to wear 42 and how Jackie Robinson’s journey still has an impact on their lives today.
Jackie Robinson Day will forever be my second favorite “holiday.” Not just for the pomp and circumstance that goes along with the day, but the look on our fans’ faces as they cheer on our Fish that carry on the legacy of a hero by wearing number 42 with pride.
The Marlins Foundation was honored to assist Marlins Bullpen Catcher Jeff Urgelles in hosting the second cycle of Compression for Life. In 2013, the Marlins Foundation, in partnership with the American Heart Association of South Florida, developed the Compression for Life program. After Jeff helped to save the life of an Arizona Diamondbacks employee while on the road with the Marlins, the Marlins Foundation honored him with a gift to start his own program geared towards teaching the youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami Dade the importance of hearth health through diet and exercise.
The second cycle of Compression for Life took place at the Boys & Girls Club of Miami Dade – Kendall Campus. Each day of the three day program had a different focus; heart health through nutrition, CPR / AED (Automated External Defibrillators) training and celebrating heart health. On the first day, fitness instruction was provided by Marlins own Strength and Conditioning Coach Ty Hill. The kids worked up a serious sweat going over the 20 minute exercise routines very similar to the ones that Ty facilitates with the Marlins players. Back inside, Jen Llanos shared tidbits about healthy eating, sprinkled in with a Q&A period where participants received Marlins giveaways for giving the best snack choices to eat.
During the second day of the program Jeff was joined by 911 Educational Consultants to instruct the proper CPR techniques and teach the kids how to use safely use an AED.. The next workroom over, Cardiologist Dr. Sizemore joined the kids to share information about why it’s important to stay healthy, sharing large scale models of a heart while the kids enjoyed healthy snacks. At the end of the day’s lesson all 100 kids walked away with their own CPR kits, courtesy of Amerigroup Foundation, so that they may practice CPR skills at home with their families.
The last day of the program was Graduation Day where all of the kids received a certificate for completing Compression for Life. The highlight of the day was a huge celebration party where the kids were joined by Jeff’s special guests, Billy The Marlin, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and Marlins President David Samson. Everyone enjoyed an afternoon of games, bounce houses, healthy snacks and dancing as they celebrated the fact that they are now armed with the tools to be heart healthy.
Special thank you to program sponsors: American Heart Association of South Florida, 911 Educational Consultants, Sergio’s Printing
In January 2013, over 150 South Florida non-profit organizations applied to the Marlins Empowerment Fund, the Marlins Foundation grant program. From the Empowerment Fund application process, the Marlins were honored to announce four non-profits as our 2013 Charity Partners. On top of their $25,000 gift, during the season each Charity Partner enjoyed a day at the ballpark dedicated to raising awareness about their cause and the opportunity for Marlins Ayudan to create but for experiences for our MASPP schools and their organizations youth through player visits and field trips. It was an exciting year filled with lots of wonderful memories on and off the field. Thank you to the 2013 Marlins Charity Partners for joining us in our efforts to better our South Florida community through education, the arts and baseball.
Mission: Breakthrough Miami is an eight-year, tuition-free academic enrichment program that provides motivated middle-school students from underserved communities with the tools they need to achieve their most ambitious goals in life.
Empowerment Fund funded program: The Marlins partnership supported a six week long Summer Institute elective course, titled “Life Lessons through Baseball”. 52 Breakthrough children participated in the “Life Lessons through Baseball” course where they learned to use the elements of baseball to reinforce the major topics covered during the Summer Institute.
Miami Children’s Museum
Mission: Miami Children’s Museum (MCM) is dedicated to enriching the lives of all children by fostering a love of learning and enabling children to realize their highest potential.
Empowerment Fund funded program: Through the Marlins partnership, MCM dedicated one Saturday a month to host Sensory Saturday for families with children that have special needs. Each Sensory Saturday boasted multisensory interactive exhibits, adjusted to a sensory friendly environment with modified lighting, sound adjustments and “cool down” rooms available for children.
Miracle League of Miami Dade
Mission: To create positive life experiences for children with special needs and their families through baseball.
Empowerment Fund funded program: Since the opening of Marlins Park in 2012, the Marlins have partnered with the Miracle League of Miami Dade in raising funds to build a special rubber turfed field for children of all disabilities to be able to play and enjoy the game of baseball safely. Once completed, over 68,000 disabled children throughout Miami-Dade County will benefit from this new site.
Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Mission: To provide vision rehabilitation and eye health services that promote independence, to collaborate with and education professionals, and to conduct research in relation fields.
Empowerment Fund funded program: Through the Marlins partnership, Miami Lighthouse provided free eye examinations and glasses to underserved children in South Florida. Eligible children received vouchers to see their community optometrist free of charge or a mobile eye care clinic would visit select schools in Miami Dade and Broward Counties. With the Marlins’ partnership, this program is projected to reach 7,500 children from low-income households throughout South Florida.
Every year on April 15, MLB and all 30 ball clubs recognize the legacy of Jackie Robinson. 42 is the only number that is retired throughout all of baseball, but on Jackie Robinson Day every player has the honor of wearing Jackie’s number. The Marlins saluted Jackie Robinson’s heroism and legacy with Marlins General Manager Michael Hill and MLB Hall of Famer Andre Dawson presenting a check for $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson Scholarship Fund, accepted by specials guest Norman Berman, bat boy of the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, along with Carol Guerrero and Kyle Rhoden, Jackie Robinson Scholarship Alumni. Carl and Norman both threw out the ceremonial first pitch to start the game. Impactful interviews were played during the inning breaks with Marlins players and a few RBI kids, highlighting what it means to wear 42 and how Jackie Robinson journey still has an impact on their lives today.
On Friday, April 12th “42”, the life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, premiered in movie theatres nationwide. The Thursday before the biopic debuted, Warner Brothers held a private screening at Cobb Theatre in Dolphin Mall, where they extended a special invitation to the Miami Marlins. Marlins Catcher Kyle Skipworth and Marlins Infielders Chris Valaika were joined by Marlins charity organizations the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project and RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) Program, to enjoy the moving film. Before the movie, Marlins General Manager Mike Hill presented the Marlins annual contribution of $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson Scholarship Foundation, represented by scholarship alumnus Carol Guerrero. Joining Hill for the check presentation was Norman Berman, ball boy for the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, along Miami Dade County School Board Members Dr. Wilbert Holloway and Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall.
On Sunday, April 14th the Marlins hosted a night at the movies, following the Phillies vs. Marlins home game. Marlins employees, joined by Ayudan Partner School children from Miami High School and the RBI Program, gathered at Muvico Theatres in Hialeah to view “42”. Special guest, MLB Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, grabbed some M&M’s to enjoy the biographical sports drama with the kids.