Rays Community Highlights
June 21 & 22 — Badges for Baseball
In partnership with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, on Thursday, June 21, the Rays hosted a Badges for Baseball Clinic for approximately 150 kids from Tampa Parks and Recreation. The Badges for Baseball program, created in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice, is a life-skills training program which pairs at-risk youth with law enforcement mentors from local communities who use team sports to teach valuable life lessons. Created to deter juvenile delinquency, Badges targets America’s most vulnerable youth, including those in low-income families and single-parent homes, children of parents on active military duty, and youth with disabilities. Equally important, Badges helps repair contentious relationships between inner-city youth and law enforcement. Before Friday, June 22’s game, we recognized our partnership with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and the Badges for Baseball program with an on-field presentation.
June 22 — Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay
Also before Friday’s game, we presented Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay with a $15,000 grant in support of their financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship programs. The Rays are proud to have locations at JA’s BizTown and Finance Park, where students can put their skills to work and gain valuable, hands-on experience!
On June 26th, Rays players, coaches, and supporters went “Back to the Future” for a fun night of gaming, all to support the Rays Baseball Foundation and Tampa General Hospital Foundation. The Second Annual Rays the Ante Casino Night theme was inspired by our celebration of 20 years of Rays baseball and giving back to our community.
The evening kicked off with a VIP Players Lounge hour, where guests mingled with Rays players, coaches and their guests, before Rays Radio broadcaster and emcee for the evening, Dave Wills, kicked off the evening and introduced Rays Presidents Brian Auld and Matt Silverman, who thanked those in attendance for their support of the event. The gaming tables and other fun activities then opened! Kevin Kiermaier, Sergio Romo, Matt Andriese, and Kevin Cash played in an exclusive VIP Poker Tournament against four generous guests. Additional fundraising opportunities were available throughout the evening, including Tervis Toss, Dart Poker, Mystery Bags, and caricatures of guests inside the famous Back to the Future DeLorean! There was also a silent auction, featuring many exclusive, one-of-a-kind experiences, memorabilia and the always popular “Players Favorite Things Baskets” that were put together courtesy of the Rays Wives.
With the support of our guests, players, coaches, employees, owners and community partners, we have been able to make a measureable impact on youth and education programs across our region. Many of these programs, like Reading with the Rays, the Rays Jersey Program, the Home Run Club and Be Water Smart from the Start effect change for vulnerable children and families in Tampa Bay. The funds raised during the Second Annual Rays the Ante Casino Night will directly extend and grow the impact of this work in our region’s neighborhoods.
June 29 — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay
The Rays were proud to present Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay with a $50,000 grant in support of their mission, which is to provide children facing adversity with professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships that will change their lives for the better, forever. As part of the Rays partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, each year, Rays employees volunteer to be a Big Brother or Big Sister and mentor a student at Campbell Park Elementary School. In addition to providing guidance and companionship through weekly mentoring, the Bigs also bring their Littles to Rays games throughout the season.
The Rays would also like to extend our congratulations to Vanessa Balazs, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay’s Hillsborough Match Support Supervisor, who recently received the “Brick Award,” which is given to one outstanding staff person per year by the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America national organization. Congratulations, Vanessa, and thank you for all you do for the children in our community!
June 29 — Rays Season Ticket Holder Double Play Donation
In addition to the numerous benefits offered via the Double Play Season Ticket opportunity, Season Ticket Holders participating in the program also have the opportunity to select from various gifts. One of the gift options is to make a difference in the lives of children in Tampa Bay, by having a donation made in your name to the Rays Baseball Foundation. We were proud and extremely grateful to recognize these generous Season Ticket Holders before Friday’s game.
June 30 — Rays Wives Charity Ride
The Rays Wives hosted and participated in a charity ride benefiting CASA St. Petersburg. The Charity Ride raised $1,650 from the ride alone, but thanks to some additional generous donations and the post-ride reception raffle, the Rays Wives ended up raising $2,170. 100% of the proceeds benefited CASA, to further their mission to end domestic violence.
June 30 — UMPS Care
UMPS CARE Charities was founded through the compassion of Major League Baseball umpires. BLUE Crew Tickets is a ticket program through UMPS CARE Charities. The BLUE Crew Tickets experience at Tropicana Field includes complimentary game tickets and an on-field meet-and-greet with photo opportunities. On Saturday, we hosted Girls Inc. of Sarasota County. As early as age 5, girls who attend Girls Inc. of Sarasota County are exposed to life-changing education about entrepreneurship, technology, finances, engineering and science through national Girls Inc. curriculum and experiential learning through a girl-run city called “Dream Harbor.”
July 1 — Salute to our Troops
On Sunday, July 1, the Rays and FOX Sports Sun honored military men, women and their families as part of a “Salute to the Troops” day with special pregame ceremonies, concourse activities and on-air highlights and videos. MacDill Air Force Base Commander Colonel Stephen Snelson threw out the ceremonial first pitch and Medal of Honor recipient and St. Petersburg resident Army Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell was an honored guest. The Air National Guard (ANG) Band of the South performed the national anthem and “God Bless America” and the U.S. flag was presented by military families. In addition, the Salute to Service program, presented by Suncoast Credit Union, was extended to include this game.