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Washington, D.C., January 13, 2010 - The holiday season is a time when many of us look back at the highs and lows of the previous year, and look forward to the promise of the year ahead. It is also a time when we participate in traditions that are often passed on from generation to generation. With all the new traditions the Nationals have developed in the short time we have been in Washington, this is a great time for us to launch the Nats in your Neighborhood (NIYN) newsletter.
Our goal for NIYN is to provide you with an ongoing look at our involvement in the community. Each issue will have a recap of what the players and front office have done, along with a glimpse at what we are planning in the future. In this issue, we’ll look back at the community highlights of the past season, such as the launch of Lannan’s Cannons and Ryan Zimmerman’s selection as one of only two baseball players among 10 "Dream Team for Public Service" nominees selected for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service. Additionally, we will recap a few events that have become Nationals’ traditions in the community.
I look forward to sharing more exciting news with you throughout the 2010 season.
Israel Negron – Director of Community Relations
One of the Nationals traditions we are most proud of is the holiday party we host each year for area youth. On December 12, the Nationals, along with ESPN Zone DC, hosted the fourth annual holiday party for 150 members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Each kid received a toy, a Build-A-Bear "Screech" plush toy and a team poster from Pitcher John Lannan, Outfielder Justin Maxwell and Mascot Screech. The kids were treated to a fun morning of breakfast, toys and unlimited access to games at ESPN Zone.
Food & Friends
Pitcher Craig Stammen and members of the Nationals Front Office Staff teamed up with Food & Friends to help prepare Thanksgiving meals on November 23. The group spent four hours helping to prepare the 8,400 pounds of turkey, 975 pounds of cornbread stuffing, 1,050 pounds of mashed potatoes and 2,600 dinner rolls that Food & Friends delivered on Thanksgiving morning. The nutritious dinners were designed to feed at least four people, giving those afflicted with disease the opportunity to host Thanksgiving dinner; a small yet significant luxury that few get to enjoy when stricken with an illness.
John Lannan Although he has completed only two seasons in Washington, John Lannan has been a presence in the DC community since earning a spot in the starting rotation early in the 2008 season. If the Nats are In Your Neighborhood, there’s a pretty good chance John is there.
Since coming to Washington, Lannan has been an almost constant presence in the community. He has participated in team events, such as the 2008 Winter Tour and the 2009 Winter Caravan, and has made various visits to schools and libraries in support of the Nationals’ literacy efforts. John also has made it a point to visit with the team’s special guests at Nationals Park. Particularly memorable are Lannan’s visits with a patient from the National Rehabilitation Hospital pediatric unit and several soldiers rehabbing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Due to his desire to increase his involvement in the DC community, John worked with the team to develop a program that makes a genuine change in the lives of our fans. In August, John and the Nationals unveiled Lannan’s Cannons, a program designed to bring joy to the lives of sick children and their families. During each homestand, families staying at The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were able to escape the rigors of treatment to enjoy a day of fun at the ballpark. John’s efforts made a real difference in these families’ lives. Due to his commitment to the community, Lannan was selected as the Nationals 2009 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s top community service honor.
Another sign that demonstrated John embracing the role of being a responsible member of the DC community, was his choice to stay in the area after the season ended, giving him the opportunity to continue his philanthropic efforts; which included a visit to his charity of choice, The Children’s Inn at NIH. You can bet that kids at The Children’s Inn were pleasantly surprised to see the 6’4" mummy at their Halloween Party!
This winter, we partnered with Serve DC to host the One Warm Coat Drive at Nationals Park to collect more than 145 warm winter coats for District adults and children in need. The coats collected were distributed by the Coalition For the Homeless, a local non-profit that helps homeless, at-risk individuals and families.
We have also worked with our ballpark concessionaire, Levy Restaurants, to host a holiday supply drive to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. During this drive, we have collected a number of supplies to fulfill the D.C. House needs. Ronald McDonald Houses provide a home-away-from-home for the families of critically ill children being treated at area hospitals.
It has been quite a year for Third Baseman Ryan Zimmerman both on and off the field. Aside from winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards, and representing the Nationals in the 2009 All-Star Game, Ryan recently earned an "All-Star berth" for his work in the community. All Stars Helping Kids named Ryan as one of the 10 "Dream Team for Public Service" winners from among 53 nominees selected for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, which recognize the top athletes who have given back to their community.
Ryan has been a fixture in the community since joining the Washington Nationals. In 2006, Ryan started the ziMS Foundation, which aims to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research and programs benefiting those afflicted with MS. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease close to Ryan’s heart. His mother was diagnosed with MS in 1995, therefore many of his community efforts have been focused on MS awareness, raising funds for research, and working closely with those directly affected by the disease. This offseason, Ryan and the ziMS Foundation hosted the 4th Annual Gala and Golf Tournament, raising thousands for the foundation.
While Nationals fans are well aware of Ryan’s hard work in the community, it was gratifying to see his efforts recognized nationally.
Dream Foundation Build The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation (WNDF) partnered with Rebuilding Together DC to refurbish areas of the Unity Southwest Health Center on December 10 and 11. The facility, located just a few blocks from Nationals Park, is a vital neighborhood resource as it offers primary and specialty medical care, health education, lab services and social services to the 150 local residents served daily regardless of ability to pay.
The WNDF provided a grant for painting and carpentry materials. The tasks requiring high skill level work - including the installation of a children’s reading corner, ceiling repair and the addition of special molding along the waiting room ceilings - were done by the Nationals Facilities Management crew. A second crew of Nats front office staffers followed up with a day of painting.
Nationals corporate partners Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Hard Times Cafe donated lunch to the work crews.
56 –300 –3,000 Many fans will tell you one of the beauties of baseball is the numbers that define it. While those of us in Community Relations do not spend as much time as others focused on numbers, we are asked to quantify what we do. As we work with so many wonderful community partners, we usually have the numbers –six youth baseball and softball clinics; 252 usable pints of blood and 1,000 pounds of food collected –at our fingertips. But as we learned, if you only look at the numbers, you will miss what is truly important.
We launched Lannan’s Cannons, a program developed with starting pitcher John Lannan to benefit the children and families staying at The Children’s Inn at NIH. Each Sunday the Nats were home, John Lannan hosted a group of kids and their families to a fun day at Nationals Park. We thought Lannan’s Cannons would have a positive impact, but how would we measure the impact of the program?
After the first Lannan’s Cannons visit, we received an e-mail from The Children’s Inn telling us about the families who came to the game. We were told about the young boy and his father who spent the entire game talking baseball strategy and statistics and how the same boy’s eyes lit up when the ballpark cheered the Nationals to their eighth consecutive win. We also learned about the mother who was grateful for the opportunity to bring her two young children to their first Major League game and who could not wait to get back to The Inn to share their experiences with a third sibling who was not able to attend the game.
After reading that e-mail, we had the answer to the question. While the number of tickets dispersed through Lannan’s Cannons are a small percentage of the 100,000 Nationals tickets that we distributed in our community this year, the impact John Lannan’s generosity will have on the lives of these families cannot be measured.