Students at the Northwest Boys and Girls Club jumped, sprinted and danced their way to good heart health as part of the Compression For Life program implemented by Jeff Urgelles, bullpen catcher for the Miami Marlins. In August 2012, Urgelles was warming up for a road game in Arizona when a game day employee collapsed in cardiac arrest. Having been a firefighter/paramedic for Miami-Dade Ambulance, Urgelles knew how to perform CPR and did so successfully until the paramedics arrived and took over.
Urgelles realized just how important it is to be knowledgeable about CPR. He wanted to teach others how to care for their hearts to avoid scary situations like the one he experienced. Urgelles partnered with the Marlins Foundation and other local agencies to start the Compression for Life Program. The program teaches youth at Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade about heart health and provides CPR and first aid training.
It turns out being heart healthy is a lot more fun and tasty than the kids thought! Students were broken up into three groups. Groups rotated between three stations: exercise, nutrition education, and healthy snacks. They had a great time, especially in the snacking station! Marlins Ayudan provided low-fat yougurt, fruit strips, and hummus with carrots for snacks. The kids surprisingly devoured the hummus!
All in all, it was a successful kickoff. There will be two more events before the program concludes in mid-February during Marlins Ayudan week.
Today was an amazing….
Today was a special day at Marlins Park -and that’s putting it lightly. The moments that made up today impacted everyone involved.
Today was so great because Marlins Foundation Charity Partner, Special Olympics of Florida, brought its skills clinic to Marlins Park. Athletes of all ages – eight to adult – showcased their skills on the field at Marlins Park. That’s right – they showcased their skills. As Marlins Ayudan volunteers that spent the morning working with the athletes, we were told early on that today we would learn a lot more about the athletes’ abilities than their disabilities. That’s exactly what happened.
The standout moment of the day for me began when I went over to speak to some 4th graders from Kensington Park Elementary. They were all so eager to talk to me about Marlins Park, about their day, about their favorite sports, and so on, and so forth. One boy in particular, Joshua, had a lot of questions about Marlins Park. I spoke with him for a long time until it was time to start the skills assessment. I told him I’d see him when see got to my station.
A few hours later when I finally welcomed Kensington Park Elementary to the [Major League!] dugout to get ready for base running, Joshua immediately stated with fire,
“Coach! I’ve been looking for you all day! I have so much more to talk to you about”.
His statement blew me away. First of all, I was honored. I felt like after knowing him for a mere half hour that I was one of his role models, like a mentor or older sibling, whose time was all that mattered to him. Second of all, he really did have so much more to ask about his surroundings. Joshua was in a never-ending pursuit of knowledge.
In addition to Joshua’s blossoming curiosity a few of the inspiring abilities I noticed in the athletes today were:
Chivalry amongst peers,
Rockin dance moves,
Knack for following directions,
Tolerance for others’ beliefs…
Oh, and of course:
Coming to work this morning I’m not sure the Marlins front office knew what to expect for a day working with Special Olympics athletes, but the early advice we received most definitely proved true – We would learn more about their abilities than their disabilities.
Wondering where Beyond the Ballpark bloggers have been? Wondering what ICYMI stands for? So many questions, so many answers in this blog entry!
Your beloved bloggers have not forgotten you, in fact we were thinking of you and your reading interests when we set out to have the best month ever, hereby referred to as The Month of Awesome.
So, Beyond the Ballpark blog fans, In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are ten things that made June at Marlins Park The Month of Awesome!
Citrus Cup Softball Classic (June 2nd)
The Marlins Wives took on the Rays Wives in the 4th Citrus Cup Softball Classic. Marlins Wives won 10-9 evening the series at 2-2, and raised over $2,100 for Marlins RBI Softball.
RBI Career Workshop Launch (June 10th)
Marlins RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) is about more than baseball, it’s about character development. This summer we launched a Career Development seminar during which students receive guidance from employees all across the Marlins front office, like President of Baseball Operations, Mike Hill.
Father’s Day (June 15th)
The Miami Marlins and Major League Baseball celebrated Father’s Day by raising awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer with the goal to “Keep Dad in The Game”. Giancarlo celebrated with a blue arm sleeve for awareness.
Fish N Chips (June 18th)
In its annual Casino Party, Fish N’ Chips, the Marlins Foundation and Event Chair Jarrod Saltalamacchia raised money for Marlins RBI.
Camp Boggy Creek Sendoff (June 19th)
In Partnership with UM’s Alex’s Place, the Marlins served as a departure site for campers headed to the Seriously Fun Camp that any child, despite their illness can enjoy.
Buses For Baseball (June 19th)
Through the MLBPA over 50 kids from Overtown Youth Center and Roberto Clemente Park had a once-in-a-lifetime batting practice experience. They all received baseballs and player autographs.
Our Community Salutes (June 20th)
Local High School graduates were officially sworn into the Marines, Navy, and Army at Marlins Park.
Play Sun Smart (June 20th-22nd)
Major League Baseball and the Miami Marlins teamed up to increase skin cancer awareness. Local Boys and Girls Clubers helped deliver sun screen throughout the ballpark.
RBI Baseball Clinic (June 21st)
Marlins RBI league participants were invited to a day of instruction on the Marlins Park field.
RBI Softball Clinic (June 28th)
Marlins RBI Softball ladies received expert instruction in a big league facility as well.
ICYMI – last month was awesome! Here’s to another awesome month in July.
It’s Saturday night at Marlins Park… if you were in your seats at the start of the 6th inning, you were already getting the sense that you may see something really special happen. Something you don’t talk about or even hint at: a perfect game. Crack! A clean base hit breaks up Henderson’s bid for perfection and many in the stands felt like they were almost witness to something special.
My take on Saturday was viewed through a different lens. You see, before Henderson threw the first pitch of the game, I had already witnessed something special. It was the Marlins Foundation Charity Partner Day and representing Special Olympics of Florida was Sabrina Meador, a young girl with Down syndrome. Sabrina was at Marlins Park for more than just a ceremony though; she was escorted to wait in the Marlins home dugout while her favorite player, Jose Fernandez, was about to surprise her with a bouquet of flowers. Jose turns the corner at the top steps from the clubhouse and Sabrina shouts, “JOSE!!!” darting over and embracing him with a great big hug, both smiling from ear to ear.
This was not Sabrina’s first interaction with Jose… on National Down Syndrome Awareness Day, to create awareness and support, we are all asked to wear “funky socks” and show them off. The Marlins had a Spring Training game that day and the guys were ALL IN and excited to sport their polka dot Marlins socks during the game. Jose would go one step further and sent a young girl named Sabrina an autographed cap. She took to social media and her response was priceless (see below).
We’re back in the dugout of Marlins Park and Jose is showing Sabrina around when he informed her that she will be throwing out the first pitch and that he’s going to be the one to catch it. She is beyond excited and nervous at the same time, so Jose suggests that they warm up with a game of catch.
The moment had finally come and I don’t even remember if she threw a strike or not, all I can remember is the look on her face as Jose walked out to the mound to congratulate her in front of the Saturday night crowd at Marlins Park… So while Henderson threw a two-hit shutout gem on his birthday (the game was the day after his birthday), all I could talk about for the rest of the night and the next day at Easter dinner was little Sabrina and the night that she will never forget.
Something really special happened at Marlins Park last Saturday.
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