Friday afternoon the St. Louis Cardinals held an event at Busch Stadium to announce the organizations being awarded grants as a part of the Cardinals Care Summer Grant Cycle. Cardinals Care, the St. Louis Cardinals community foundation, is distributing $200,000 to 93 area non-profit groups that support local kids. Representatives and guests were all in attendance.
Rain delayed and even moved the the event but it could not dampen the spirits of those in attendance. Waiting outside of gate three before the event, in the rain no less, I watched as the kids in attendance jumped and ran around with excitement usually reserved for the last day of school. To their delight Fredbird made an appearance and made everyone all but forget they were standing in the rain.
Once seated, section 161 became as boisterous as one might expect at game time. As Fredbird took pictures with old and young alike Cardinal Care executives Keith Brooks and Michael Hall, who MC’d the event took their place at the podium. Briefly detailing the history and mission of Cardinal Care, which I have noted at the end of the post, he introduced Cardinal pitcher Jake Westbrook to loud cheers and applause.
After intently instructing that no questions were to come from any media or adults MC Michael Hall opened the floor for the children to begin peppering Westbrook with questions. This Q&A session was allowed to go a bit longer than intended, but had Hall or Westbrook anticipated some of the questions they might have reconsidered.
As the children fired away with their questions I couldn’t help but wonder if there were some aspiring journalists in the crowd. Here is a few that caught my and Jake’s attention:
“Are you going to retire a Cardinal?’ “Why don’t you throw more strikes?” and “Who are the hardest hitters you have ever faced?” He answered the first as predicted, with vagueness and generalities but that didn’t seem to bother the kid who asked it.
His answers to the other two questions were more forthcoming. As far as throwing more strikes he answered with “I try, I do. But sometimes you have to throw a few balls to mix it up” As someone who has pitched in both the AL and NL I was surprised to learn that the hardest hitters he has ever faced are Dmitri Young and Paul Konerko. Who knew?
Jake thanked the kids for their questions then after a few closing remarks turned in back over to Hall. After the Q&A Hall ran through the list of organizations receiving the grants and thanked everyone for coming. After the ceremony attendees were offered tickets to the Friday night Cardinals game against the Braves.
As they excited section 161 a stream of grateful adults and children stopped to express their thanks and gratitude to both Hall and Brooks for what Cardinal Care Charities allows them to do.
***Since 1997, Cardinals Care has maintained a direct focus on distributing funds to area non-profit youth organizations. Many of the organizations who are recipients of Cardinals Care charitable grants are based in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. The funds are intended to support the purchase of computers and software, educational books, recreational equipment, field renovations and supplies for after school programs. Cardinals Care grants are made possible through their two largest annual fundraisers; the Winter Warm-Up, a three-day fan event that is held in January of each year and the Run Home for Kids, a 6K fun run held this year on September 18th. The 2011 Winter Warm-Up raised over $600,000 for Cardinals Care and the 2010 Run Home for Kids garnered over $200,000. Cardinals Care also raises funds through memorabilia auctions online and throughout Busch Stadium during the season. Cardinals’ fans donated over $100,000 to Cardinals Care through auctions in 2010. Fans may now make a tax-deductible donation to Cardinals Care on line at cardinals.com/community.