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MLB announces Initiative for Kids

08/09/2004 6:57 PM ET

By Mark Newman / MLB.com


For the newest generation of baseball fans, this is going to be like an endless summer.

For the many other children who need everyone's help, it could mean endless hope.


In an unprecedented effort to support important youth-related charitable causes while at the same time giving more young people the opportunity to attend ballgames, Major League Baseball announced today that it is implementing a league-wide, $1 ticket program from mid-August through early September.


All proceeds from the "Commissioner's Initiative for Kids" program will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America (the official charity of Major League Baseball) and the CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation.


Through the program, fans will be able to obtain tickets to games in each Major League Baseball market by making a minimum charitable contribution of $1 per ticket. Tickets will be distributed through designated Boys & Girls Clubs of America locations. Group distributions will be coordinated through Major League Baseball. The number of tickets available per club will vary based on each club's season-ticket base and the number of individual game tickets already sold.


"There is nothing more important to the future health and success of our game than to engage children in the excitement of baseball," said Commissioner Bud Selig. "Major League Baseball, as a social institution, has a responsibility to give back to its communities, and this program combines our goal of cultivating youth interest in the game while providing an opportunity for us to support two very important youth-based organizations, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation. I am grateful to all members of the Commissioner's Initiative -- particularly Tom Glavine -- for helping to create this program."


Glavine, the Mets' veteran pitcher and one of the player members of the Commissioner's Initiative, suggested that a cause-related fund-raising component for children be part of the Commissioner's Initiative for Kids, and brought CureSearch to the program.


Major League Baseball already implements cause-related marketing programs -- including the Mother's Day breast cancer awareness and fund-raising campaign, and the Father's Day prostate cancer awareness and fund-raising campaign -- on an annual basis.


"The work being done by CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation to support the Children's Oncology Group with funding and other resources is crucial in the search for a cure," said Glavine. "I am thrilled that Commissioner Selig designated CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation as a beneficiary of this program, and I encourage baseball fans all over the country to donate money to this wonderful cause and enjoy a day at the ballpark with the children they love."


The National Childhood Cancer Foundation supports the work of the most prestigious childhood cancer treatment and research center in North America, the Children's Oncology Group. It is dedicated to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on infants, children, adolescents and young adults by supporting clinical and laboratory research on cancer causes, treatments and cures, and through education and the advocacy of the needs of children with cancer and their families.


"On behalf of all the families, parents and children impacted by childhood cancer, CureSearch is very proud to be a beneficiary for the inaugural year of the Commissioner's Initiative for Kids," said Paul T. Burke, president and CEO of CureSearch. "Childhood cancer is the number-one killer of children in the United States. Every day, 46 children, the equivalent of two classrooms full, are diagnosed with a childhood cancer. But through collaborative research and medical advances, today we are seeing an overall cure rate of 78 percent. The Commissioner's Initiative for Kids will help CureSearch reach the day when every child with cancer can be guaranteed a cure."


Boys & Girls Clubs of America has been the official charity of Major League Baseball since 1997, and in that time the two organizations have established more than 100 RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) leagues and nearly 150 Rookie Leagues (machine-pitch instructional programs), and increased exposure for B&GCA through MLB-produced print, radio and TV public-service ad campaigns. The partnership has generated more than $15 million in funding for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.


Boys & Girls Clubs is a national network of more than 3,300 neighborhood-based facilities that each year serve 3.6 million young people, primarily from disadvantaged circumstances, in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as domestic and international military bases.


Known as the "Positive Place for Kids," the Clubs provide character-development programs on a daily basis, conducted by full- and part-time trained professional staff and volunteers.


"Boys & Girls Clubs of America is proud to partner with Major League Baseball on the Commissioner's Initiative for Kids," said Kurt Aschermann, executive vice president of marketing. "Not only does this program offer our Clubs an opportunity to raise funds while also supporting childhood cancer research, it offers an opportunity for Boys and Girls Club kids to see a game with Mom and Dad before summer ends. B&GCA appreciates everything MLB does for us, including this wonderful promotion."


The Commissioner's Initiative for Kids -- which will become an annual program -- is the result of research and recommendations from the Commissioner's Initiative: Major League Baseball in the 21st Century. The goal of the Initiative is to provide a platform for fans, particularly young fans, to support important youth-related charities while giving as many children as possible the opportunity to attend games.


When Alex Rodriguez spoke in early 2003 at the ground-breaking ceremony of a Boys & Girls Club educational center that he is spearheading in Miami, he was standing on the same turf where he played baseball as a 9-year-old. The current Yankees superstar credits that particular chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for giving him the opportunity to be where he is now.


"I'm all about giving kids different avenues and good avenues," he said then. "In life, there are bad ways you can go. I want to give kids good avenues."


Now kids will have even more opportunity to see their baseball heroes in Major League ballparks, as summer vacation winds down and school beckons. For many other kids who need everyone's help, that is an especially good thing.

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