Jason Wheeler and his teammates at the "Wings of Hope" press conference on May 24.
By Rochester Red Wings | May 24, 2017 12:04 PM ET
Rochester Community Baseball, Sharing Kindness, Inc., and Villa of Hope present "Wings of Hope" to raise awareness of suicide risk factors, suicide prevention and community resources for treatment. The event takes place Sunday, August 13 - presented by McDonald's and Young Explosives.
Pitcher Jason Wheeler and his family know the effect suicide has on a family, "Mental illness and suicide have personally affected me and my family. We lost my 16 year-old brother-in-law Jeremy, almost eight months ago. Since this tragedy, we have been astonished at not only how common mental illness and suicide are, but also how unable we are as a society to speak about them because of the strong stigma associated with these issues. As a family, we are working towards eliminating stigma surrounding suicide, and changing the perception in our communities that mental illness is different from any other illness. We feel very fortunate to be partnering with the Red Wings and Villa of Hope, with the support of McDonald's and Young Explosives, to help raise mental health awareness, improve education, and start an ongoing conversation about suicide, both in the Rochester community and nationwide."
Click here to read the May 24 press release announcing the event (PDF file) Click hereto see a photo gallery from the May 24 press conference.
JASON WHEELER UPDATE: The life of a professional baseball player is unpredictable. After working with the Red Wings and the Villa of Hope to put together Wings of Hope and speaking at the May 24 press conference to announce the event, Wheeler was called up to the Twins, and made his major league debut with the Twins on May 30. He was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers the following week, then traded to the Orioles organization July 2. As luck and fate would have it, Jason is currently with the Orioles' Triple-A Norfolk club - the Wings' opponent for the August home series that includes Wings of Hope on August 13.
"Although I may not be wearing a Wings uniform anymore, I would like to let everyone know that the city of Rochester and the Red Wings organization still means a lot to me," Wheeler wrote in a July 10 e-mail. "I spent the majority of the last four years playing for you all, and your support was always evident. I am happy to announce that I am still planning on attending our Wings of Hope event on August 13 and I hope to see you all there."
Special Red Wings jerseys, hats, and unique collectibles and experiences will be available for auction at the Sunday, August 13th game. All proceeds of the auction will benefit Villa of Hope and Sharing Kindness, Inc. That game is a designated "Kids Club Day" and will include sports entertainer "BirdZerk!" and a chance for kids to run the bases with Spikes and Mittsy after the game
Here's a look at the jersey/cap combo that the Wings will be wearing on August 13, which will be autographed by the team and available for auction:
A partial list of Aug. 13 collectible and experience auction items (check back here for new items being added)
* Honorary Red Wings Bat Kid experience for a 2018 home game
* Behind the scenes VIP ballpark tour, tickets, parking and dinner at a 2017 or 2018 home game
* Guest co-host all on-field promotions with Grant Anderson at a 2017 home game
* One of a kind Wilson A2000 green and white glove signed by Jason Wheeler
* One of a kind New Balance green and white baseball spikes signed by Jason Wheeler
* Game-worn Twins cap and game-used Major League ball signed by Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson
* Rawlings Joe Mauer model bat signed by Twins first baseman Joe Mauer
* Target Field exclusive Legacy series Harmon Killebrew statue
* Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day signed Major League baseball
* Orioles pitcher Zach Britton signed Major League baseball
* Norfolk Tides (Orioles) gift bags with team card set, signed player cards and
giveaway items (two gift bags)
*Nationals catcher Matt Wieters signed Adirondack Pro bat
*"Field of Dreams" star Dwier Brown signed International League baseball
*Tigers/Jays/Twins pitcher Jack Morris signed International League baseball
*Red Sox/Blue Jays pitcher Mike Timlin signed International League baseball
*Dodger/Padres first baseman Steve Garvey signed International League baseball
*2017 Red Wings team signed International League baseball
The day will also feature relevant resource information tables staffed by Villa of Hope, Delphi Drug & Alcohol Council, WikBrothers.com, and 46Climbs.com.
Learn more about Jason Wheeler's personal connection to teen suicide, as told by his in-laws - the Walters family:
About Sharing Kindness
Sharing Kindness is a newly-formed non-profit, started by the Walters family after the death by suicide of their 16 year old son Jeremy, in October of 2016. It is dedicated to overcoming the stigma surrounding mental illness, depression and suicide. Sharing Kindness is about having the courage and compassion to start and sustain the conversation in our communities about these issues that have traditionally been so difficult to talk about. We are currently developing and helping fund various awareness and education programs in the lower and outer towns of Cape Cod, MA, an area plagued with higher than average rates of suicide, with special focus on our schools.
About Villa of Hope
Through a network of high quality programs and services, Villa of Hope specializes in helping at-risk youth overcome emotional and behavioral challenges and build lifelong strengths. The Villa's community-based, residential and educational programs address mental health needs, trauma-informed care, life-skills development, and chemical dependency. Founded in 1942, today Villa of Hope serves more than 3,000 young people and their families annually.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.