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02/05/2013 10:35 PM ET
VISALIA, Calif. -- The Visalia Rawhide and the Tulare County Office of Education are pleased to announce a new community outreach partnership that will break new ground in terms of impacting the lives of students in Tulare County and conveying the message of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program in local schools.

"In Tulare County, CHARACTER COUNTS! has a long history of community support from a diverse range of education, law enforcement, media, faith-based, private sector and civic organizations. We are always delighted to see the community support grow, and this year it comes in the form of a partnership with the Visalia Rawhide," said Tulare County superintendent of schools Jim Vidak. "We are particularly excited that the Rawhide chose to help us create a character education program promoting good sportsmanship through their 'adopt-a-player' program. We look forward to working with the Rawhide and Tulare County schools to reinforce the message that CHARACTER COUNTS! on and off the field."

Through this partnership, the Rawhide will be sending their players into the community via the newly formed "adopt-a-player" program. These players will be trained to convey the CHARACTER COUNTS! message throughout 25 Tulare County schools from April through August during the 2013 season. Rawhide general manager Jennifer Pendergraft believes this program will not only help shape the lives of Tulare County students but also the young men sent to play professional baseball in Visalia.

"Partnering with an organization like CHARACTER COUNTS! has been a vision for the Rawhide organization for several years now and we are very happy that this idea is coming to fruition," Pendergraft said. "Part of being a Minor League team is coaching the players -- off the field as well as on the field -- to be Major Leaguers. You see players like Craig Breslow and his Strike 3 Foundation for cancer research, or Orlando Hudson's C.A.T.C.H. Foundation for children with autism; those are the kinds of players we want to help the Diamondbacks produce. Training our players to speak to children here in Tulare County on the Six Pillars of Character is a great place to start and will hopefully instill those same characteristics in our team as well as the kids they're being role models for. This is a win-win partnership."

On May 29, the Rawhide will host CHARACTER COUNTS! Day at Recreation Ballpark. This day will feature special discounted tickets and food for school groups as well as interactive booths promoting the message of living a healthy lifestyle. Select students from all schools in attendance that day will receive special on-field recognition, awards and prizes provided by the Rawhide and CHARACTER COUNTS!