The power you felt as your bat hit the ball... the exhilaration you experienced as you legged it out around the bases... the thrill you enjoyed as you shared palm-stinging high-fives with your teammates. If you close your eyes, just for a moment, and think back to younger days spent playing baseball with your friends, these are likely some of the simple pleasures that come to mind and bring a smile to your face.
Now open your eyes and consider this. For hundreds of children throughout the Lower Mainland - children whose personal circumstances prevent them from taking part in team sports - well, the joy of playing baseball rests solely in their imaginations; it comes alive only in their dreams.
This stark reality is just as motivating today as it was back in 2010 when business partners Jeff Mooney and Jake Kerr purchased the Vancouver Canadians. They, along with team president Andy Dunn, were determined to somehow remove the obstacles in the paths of so many disadvantaged children who'd love nothing more than to lace up their shoes, grab a glove and just play ball. Jeff, Jake and Andy believed that the game of baseball could benefit a child's life in many ways, and that no child, for any reason, should be denied the opportunity to experience those benefits for themselves. Their determination sparked the creation of the Vancouver Canadians Youth Baseball League.
From the word 'go', there was no question that the Canadians had the skills, and the facilities required to run a youth baseball league. But the next step was somewhat bigger: finding the best way to connect with children who'd benefit most from the chance to play. That's when the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC stepped up to the plate. Through their 13 neighbourhood based clubs throughout the Lower Mainland, they reached out to their members, and as a result, registered hundreds of eager would-be ballplayers. Mission accomplished. Thanks to this successful collaboration between the two organizations, the Vancouver Canadians Youth Baseball League was launched in the spring of 2011. And thanks to the ongoing support of donors, sponsors and volunteers, it's been going strong ever since.
From June to August each summer, the Vancouver Canadians Youth Baseball League operates a mini league with two divisions: one for girls and boys ages 5-8, and the other for 9-11 year olds. The league plays its six-game schedule while the Canadians are on the road. Each player receives a new glove, sports bag, batting helmet, and team jersey; all free, high quality, certified gear which ensures that everyone is 'dressed for success' - and safety - when they take to Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium. Every child is served a nutritious (pre/post game) meal. Adding to the fun is the camaraderie the kids enjoy on the team bus as they ride, for free, from their Boys and Girls Club location to The Nat and back at the end of a great day of baseball.
It's said there's strength in numbers. No words ring more true, considering the success of the (six-year) partnership between the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation and Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC. In fact, some of the funds raised through our annual Scotiabank Vancouver Canadians Hot Stove Luncheon and this week's #beyondthenat Fundraising and Awareness campaign are directed towards supporting local youth programs offered by local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Now that's what we call teamwork.
To Donate to the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Foundation, click HERE.
To take part in this week's #BeyondTheNat online Silent Auction, click HERE.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.