Just one season after the Quad Cities River Bandits became the first U.S. professional sports team to hold a photo jersey auction for charity, the team's second annual event was recognized this week with the annual Golden Bobblehead Award for the Best Charity Promotion or Event in Minor League Baseball.
The Autism Awareness Photo Jersey Auction, presented by the Quad Cities Autism Center, raised more than $12,000 for autism awareness at the River Bandits' Aug. 9 game at Modern Woodmen Park. The promotion was selected earlier this month among nearly 200 nominations as a finalist in its promotional category. Finalist teams made presentations at this week's Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar in Louisville, Ky., and attendees voted to decide the winners of the Golden Bobblehead Awards.
"We are so thankful for the support from the River Bandits organization, the Quad Cities Autism Center, the entire Quad Cities community and Minor League Baseball in winning this award," said River Bandits Director of Marketing and Promotions Shane Huff. "This award is a symbol of our commitment to charity, to our community and to our continued resolve in bringing innovative and fun entertainment to River Bandits games."
In the months leading up to the Autism Awareness Photo Jersey Auction, people could help sponsor the jerseys and buy a small square inside a player's uniform numbers for $25. The square would feature a photograph of their choice or one chosen by the Quad Cities Autism Center. All 109 available squares were sold. Each person who sponsored a square received a puzzle piece with his or her name on it that was displayed in the River Bandits team store. The River Bandits wore the jerseys Aug. 9, and fans bid on the jerseys in a silent auction during the game, as well as a postgame live auction for select jerseys. All the proceeds from the square sales and auction went to benefit the Quad Cities Autism Center.
"We are honored to receive the Golden Bobblehead Award for a promotion that so well represents the River Bandits' mission in so many ways - a terrific charitable cause with outstanding community support, a unique promotion, a valuable keepsake for the winners and a memorable experience for everyone involved," said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. "We are thrilled to bring back another award to the Quad Cities community whose generous and enthusiastic support not only makes this promotion such a tremendous event but makes the entire Modern Woodmen Park experience an award-winning place for family-friendly fun!"
The award adds to the recognition for the organization over the last two months, which have included the sixth Midwest League Championship in franchise history to conclude the first season of a new affiliation with the Houston Astros, as well as the selection of Modern Woodmen Park as the Best Minor League Ballpark in a nationwide vote at 10Best.com and USA TODAY.