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Marlins Ayudan Celebrates Sixth Year of Service

In 2010, the Marlins launched their Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, Marlins Ayudan. Ayudan (Spanish for “help”) engages every full-time front office employee in a volunteer corps willing and ready to effectuate positive change in the South Florida community.

In the six years since the program’s inception, Marlins Ayudan Blue Shirts have served over 41,000 hours and established partnerships and traditions of giving that inspire employees to pursue their passions and contribute their time and talents year-round.

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Last week, the Marlins front office gathered to kick off the new Ayudan season and recognize the team and individual who dedicated more hours than any other this past year.

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The 2016 Marlins Ayudan Team of the Year, The Voice – led by Executive Vice President of Operations & Events, Claude Delorme – collectively served 276 hours from June 2015 to June 2016.

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Service projects included preparing lunch at the Miami VA Hospital’s Fisher House, meal serving at Miami Rescue Mission, mentoring special needs students at Citrus Grove Middle School, and leading the Adopt-O-Mania efforts at Marlins Park in conjunction with Miami-Dade County Animal Services.

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Ryan Bertschman, 2016 Marlins Ayudan Blue Shirt of the Year, devoted 240.5 hours over the same time span.

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Ryan, Director of Sales & Service, was a participant in Kickin’ It With the Fish, a unified kickball league for Marlins employees and military veterans in the VA Hospital’s Recreational Therapy program. Additionally, he served as a Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters School to Work Program, volunteered as a coach with the Weston AYSO, and frequently spoke to and advised high school students at the Marlins Ayudan Career Workshop Series.

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The Voice was recognized by President David Samson and awarded $5,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.

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Similarly, Ryan (pictured here with Adrian Mora, Manager of the front office volunteer program) was presented with a $2,500 charitable donation for his service to Marlins Ayudan.

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Members of The Voice and Ryan Bertschman epitomize what it means to be a Marlins Ayudan Blue Shirt. Congratulations to all!

After-School All-Stars take to the airwaves

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Through the Marlins Charity Partner gift, After-School All-Stars of South Florida, in partnership with FS Florida, launched the Jr. Broadcaster Program.

This program is a life-changing, career inspiring STEM & Performing Arts-based initiative that develops real-world skills for students as future broadcasters, radio announcers and production professionals.

On June 20, a group of seven students from Kinloch Park Middle School visited Marlins Park to work hand in hand with our broadcast team for an in-depth, behind the scenes experience at Marlins Park.

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Dustin McGowan: Playing in the Bigs with Diabetes

The bullpen phone rings. The heads of all seven Marlins relievers turn to the phone as bullpen coach Reid Cornelius picks up. After a few words, Cornelius hangs up the phone and says, “McGowan.” Dustin McGowan picks up his glove and begins getting loose.

As he heads to the rubber in the bullpen, the adrenaline begins flowing through his veins and his blood sugar rises. For most this isn’t a concern, but for Dustin monitoring his blood sugar levels is critical. Dustin was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 21 years old following elbow surgery while he was in the minors.

As McGowan begins to warm up, his blood sugar levels rise. If McGowan’s blood sugar levels get too high or too low it could pose problems. Luckily for McGowan, he is able to monitor his blood sugar and hasn’t had any issues during a game.

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Dustin is not the only diabetic in his family. Dustin’s seven year-old daughter, McKensy, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes three years ago. However, through lifestyle adjustments and help from her parents, McKensy has also been able to monitor her diabetes.

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On Tuesday, the McGowan family visited the Diabetes Research Institute on the University of Miami’s medical campus. Dustin spoke to a group of kids who also have Type 1 Diabetes. Dustin hopes to serve as a role model for kids with the condition. Dustin wants to show kids that having diabetes is a challenge rather than a handicap and that it is possible for them to achieve their dreams too in the same way he did.

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As part of their ongoing efforts, Dustin and his wife Jilly will host six children with diabetes and their parents for this Friday’s game against the Cubs.

Additionally, the Marlins will host Diabetes Awareness Day on Sunday, July 24th against the Mets. The Marlins will donate $5 of each ticket sold through the special event package to the Diabetes Research Institute. Tickets available here.

Retired Special Forces Soldier Paddleboarding from Texas to New York Stops at Marlins Park

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When former U.S. Army Delta Force Operator Josh Collins first stepped foot onto a stand-up paddleboard, he never imagined he was destined to embark on a 3,500 mile journey. The 20-year veteran received the paddleboard as a gift from his wife, Tonia, to act as a means of recreational therapy. For years, Josh has struggled with various Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, incurred over the span of his military career, and spent over three months hospitalized in the James A Haley VA Polytrauma Unit in Tampa, FL for sustained TBI therapy.

“Everything relating to balance – in my head, neck, ears, eyes – is messed up […] When I got on a paddleboard for the first time two years ago, the world stood still for the first time. It was like the lights coming on in a dark room after being in the dark for about ten years,” he says.

Josh is now on a mission to increase awareness and resourcing for veterans suffering from TBI and PTSD.  On March 5th, he began a stand-up paddleboarding expedition from Corpus Christi, Texas to New York City in an effort to raise funds for the Task Force Dagger Foundation. Task Force Dagger Foundation is a nonprofit that supports U.S. Special Operations Command personnel and their families with needs that are not otherwise covered by the military or their insurance, such as recreational therapy to assist with the rehabilitation and recovery from injuries sustained while serving our country.

The Miami native took a break from paddling 35 miles each day to drop by Marlins Park this week. Check out what Josh had to say about his trip so far.

Blue Shirts Assist on Global Youth Service Day

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Saturday, April 16th marked the 28th annual Global Youth Service Day, the world’s largest service event and the only one dedicated to celebrating the contributions made by the youngest members of our society.

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Marlins Ayudan partnered with HandsOn Miami and their Youth Advisory Council to conduct a series of beautification projects at Ludlam Trail, a 6.2-mile linear park through the heart of Miami-Dade County.

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Over 200 volunteers came together to paint over a 600-foot, graffiti-covered wall as well as remove two dumpsters worth of illegally discarded trash and debris.

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These projects were implemented in conjunction with Friends of Ludlam Trail and Green Mobility Network in the continued effort to transform the stretch of partially abandoned Florida East Coast railway into a safe, fully walkable pedestrian trail.

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Additionally, HandsOn Miami’s Youth Advisory Council developed and led several “pop up” projects, including painting and assembling skateboards to be donated to children of military personnel in recognition of April being Military Child Appreciation Month, and making dog toys to be donated to local animal shelters.

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It was unbelievably inspiring to witness individuals of all different ages and abilities come together to make a concrete impact in our community. Finding service opportunities that not only permit, but encourage youth participants to mobilize and be real agents of change is a rarity, and it was truly empowering to be a part of such an event.

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