The Kane County Cougars organization strives to maintain their commitment to serving communities throughout Chicagoland, and the 28th season of Cougars baseball includes numerous examples of that philosophy.
Cougars Reading Club. Now in its third decade, the Cougars' reading program included 125,000 students from over 400 schools who improved their reading skills through the Cougars Reading Clu in 2018. Regarded as one of the most successful and rewarding reading incentive programs in the Chicagoland area, the Cougars Reading Club allows teachers and reading specialists to set goals for students at different grade levels. Students receive rewards for reading a certain number of books or pages, with prizes awarded as they read their way to first base, second base, third base and finally, to home plate. Students hitting a home run received a ticket to a Cougars game, food voucher and a Cougars drawstring bag. Graduates were also recognized in a pre-game parade on the field. Cougars Reading Club sponsors in 2018 were The Pride Stores, Oberweis and Cantigny.
Military Recognition. The Cougars will host Military Appreciation Night on July 7 which includes complimentary tickets for servicemen and women along with their families, a pre-game large American flag unfurling on the field and a presence by numerous military groups In 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and First Lady Diana Rauner were on hand for the festivities, as well as the unveiling of the first ever Military Honor Photo Jersey featuring military portraits of both former and active-duty service members. A portion of the proceeds from the game worn jersey silent auction held throughout the night benefitted the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans located in Wheaton, Ill. The Cougars hold a partnership with Veteran Tickets Foundation in which the Cougars organization donates tickets for each Thursday-Sunday game during the season. Active military and their families received complimentary admission at all games this past season.
Hometown Heroes. The Cougars welcome both active duty and retired military personnel to be recognized as hometown heroes during the season. These individuals, along with their families, are treated to a Cougars game with complimentary tickets and are recognized on the field during games for their service to our country.
Cougars In The Community. When the 2018 calendar year closes, Ozzie will have visited nearly 100 events throughout Chicagoland including hospitals, schools and festivals. Cougars' players and coaches extended their presence with numerous community appearances this season as well, including a visit by the entire team and field staff to Marklund in Geneva. Cougars' staff continue to be active in the community through volunteer work, speaking engagements and community outreach such as distributing Thanksgiving turkeys at the Tri-Cities Salvation Army in St. Charles.
Summer Reading Program. Community libraries in Geneva and surrounding towns take part in this year's summer library reading programs, which rewards children with tickets for their summer reading accomplishments.
Donations. Again this season, the Cougars will assit non-profit organizations including churches, schools, outing groups and others with charitable donations for fundraising events. When the 2018 calendar year closes, the Cougars will have assisted hundreds of non-profit organizations through donations of ticket vouchers, memorabilia and gift certificates. Those interested in soliciting a donation from the Cougars organization are encouraged to visit the "Community" page at kccougars.com to learn more.
Scout Nights. The Cougars are set to welcome more than 1,200 scouts and their families to Northwestern Medicine Field for Memorial Day weekend campouts. In addition to enjoying a Cougars game, campers spend the night at the ballpark and enjoy a hot breakfast the following morning. Scouts also earn a badge.
Monthly Charity Initiatives. During the 2018 season, the Cougars will raise money through the 50/50 raffle, sponsored by Bret Brizzolara, Country Financial representaive. Proceeds will go towards several community-centered causes during the 2018 season through their monthly charity initiatives: Mutual Ground (April/May), CASA Kane County (June), Northern Illinois Food Bank (July) and BraveHearts for Kids (August/September).
Pitch In For Charity: The Cougars combined with Acres Group for the Pitch in for Charity tennis ball promotion in 2018. Fans purchase numbered tennis balls and attempt to land them on an on-field target following select Cougars games. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Loaves and Fishes CARES.
Cougars 5K. The Cougars' 5K charity run and walk, held in late May, is a charitable event in which a portion of race proceeds will benfit Special Olympics Illinois. More than 400 participants took part in the event last year, which included a post-race brat and beer or soda at the finish for participants, along with a high-five on the field from Ozzie and Annie T. Cougar at the home plate finish line.
High School Sports Business Seminars. This spring, the Cougars will welcome nearly 1,000 high school students to Northwestern Medicine Field for a series of high school sports business seminars. Students are able to learn more about the business side of working in sports, along with exploring career opportunities in the field.
Ozzie & Annie Reading Scholars. The Cougars award scholarships to both current and former members of the Cougars Reading Club. Applicants are asked to describe how their involvement with the Cougars Reading Club serves as a positive influence in their daily lives. Winners and their families are invited to a Cougars game and recognized in a pre-game ceremony on the field.
Legacy Brick Program. In the fall of 2014, the Cougars unveiled a commemorative legacy brick program as fans could purchase a custom brick etched with a special message along with their name or the name of a family member or friend. These bricks have been and will continue to be permanently displayed outside Northwestern Medicine Field. During the summer of 2015, the Cougars welcomed United States Army veteran Joseph Daniels, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Kandahar, Afghanistan with the 2nd Infantry Division. Daniels represented the Wounded Warrior Project, who received a portion of the legacy brick program proceeds.