FREDERICK, MD-With the holiday season upon us, the Frederick Keys are excited to look back on 2017 as another outstanding year for community involvement. This year, the Keys worked hand-in-hand with a myriad of groups on community initiatives and assisted in countless fundraising efforts.
In 2017, the Keys contributed more than $200,000 to the local community. This benefited non-profits, local schools and libraries, the military and other worthy causes. The Keys also donated over $150,000 in in-kind gifts and raised over $20,000 for local non-profit organizations through in-stadium fundraising. This supported local non-profit groups including the United Way, Heartly House, Habitat For Humanity, Blessings in a Backpack and The Police Activities League. Funds were also raised for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Throughout the season, the Keys work with different organizations to benefit local non-profits and other worthy causes. For the third straight season, BGE Home and the Keys partnered on "Make a Difference Monday." During each Monday game, a different 501 (c) (3) organization was given 25 tickets to see the Keys play to go along with a pre-game interview, a ceremonial first, a marketing table on the concourse and a :20 public address announcement. Among the groups who participated were the Team Up for 1 Foundation and the Frederick County Humane Society.
Other year-long programs which benefited local non-profits included Walks for a Cause and Pack the Park. Each time a Keys player walked, Keeney and Basford Funeral Homes donated $10 to Frederick Keys Care. Another staple of the Keys community involvement, Pack the Park enables charities to raise funds through ticket sales as well as a 50/50 raffle. Pack the Parks take place on Fridays and Saturday's to maximize the organization's exposure. Other benefits include a first pitch and a chance to speak on the field before the game.
Some groups have specific nights where their cause is recognized. These included Strike Out Stroke Night, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Night, Knock Tobacco Out of the Park Day and Cancer Awareness Night. Through working with Frederick Memorial Hospital's Stroke & Chest Pain Division, the Keys were able to spread awareness of strokes, how to avoid them and be alerted to when someone could be having one.
For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Night, the Keys worked with the Maryland School for the Deaf to promote ways to communicate with individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired. Students from the school also created special sign language videos with Keys players. Knock Tobacco Out of the Park Day included a pre-game presentation about tobacco use, as well as a video and slates throughout the game explaining the dangers of using tobacco. For this night, the Keys partnered with the Tobacco Free Coalition.
Each season the Keys join forces with the American Cancer Society to recognize cancer survivors and to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer. Survivors receive a free ticket to the game, while ACS sells t-shirts and luminaries as part of a unique fireworks show. This includes a photo montage on the video board of cancer fighters, in conjunction with the organization's Cancer Has a Face Program. Keys Players and Coaches also donned special lavender jerseys with words of encouragement such as hope, faith and love. These were auctioned off during the game, with proceeds benefiting ACS.
To promote educational and wellness initiatives, the Keys work frequently with the Frederick County Public School System. In 2017, the team introduced the Report Card Program. Children who received A's, A equivalents or improved grades on their report cards received two complimentary tickets to a Keys game in April as well as a bumper sticker showing their accomplishments.
Meanwhile, this past season just under 2,000 sixth grade students filled Nymeo Field for STEM Day. Each student attendee received an assignment packet with questions based on game action, information from concourse vendors and videos featuring Keys mascot Keyote and players. The Keys and FCPS also work together on Family Fitness Weekend. Children who are active for one hour a day receive a voucher to a Keys weekend game.
Once again the Keys and Frederick County Public Libraries worked together in 2017. The team provided local libraries in Frederick and in surrounding counties with nearly 70,000 summer reading vouchers. Students who complete their summer reading assignments receive a voucher to attend a game in either July or August and receive recognition during a pre-game parade.
A long-standing goal of the Keys has also been to give back to active and retired military members. One way this is accomplished is through Fort Detrick Night. A US Army Medical Command Installation based in Frederick, Fort Detrick is the city's largest employer. The Keys work closely with the base to put on a night for military members and their families. Tickets are provided at a discounted rate, while Fort Detrick brings out an anthem singer, color guard and military VIPs to give on-field presentations.
The Keys will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018. For more information about ticket plans, fans can contact the Keys groups department at 301-815-9900. The Frederick Keys kickoff their home schedule on Thursday, April 12 against the Potomac Nationals at 7:00 p.m. To follow the Keys all offseason, fans can visit frederickkeys.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.