The Astros Foundation and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) celebrated the opening of three newly revitalized Houston youth baseball fields today at Ingrando Park, 7302 Keller Street. Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane joined BCBSTX Executive Officer Shara McClure and other team and BCBSTX executives as well as Astros centerfielder Justin Maxwell, Astros legendary alumnus Jose Cruz and players and coaches from the Dixie Little League, along with team mascot Orbit.
"We are honored to work with a great community champion like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas in renovating these public ballfields for the kids who play on them," said Jim Crane. "We know the lessons kids learn from baseball -- like teamwork, and perseverance and respect for others -- are lessons that will last a lifetime and extend far beyond the baseball diamond. And we look forward to hosting the kids and their families at Astros games and providing clinics and other special events with our players, alumni and Astros Foundation staff throughout the year. "
As part of BCBSTX's commitment to the Houston community, the company will make a donation to the Astros Foundation to help fund the program over the next five years. At Ingrando Park, The Astros Foundation and BCBSTX will be working with Dixie Little League, which serves more than 225 kids and uses the newly revitalized youth ballgrounds as its home field.
The Astros Community Leaders program is investing $18 million in city-owned public youth baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged areas of Houston over the course of the next five years. Jumpstarted by Jim Crane, the Community Leaders program is run by The Astros Foundation, the official team charity, and is a collaboration with the city of Houston and corporations like BCBSTX. The reconstruction and safety features added to the city-owned Ingrando Park ballfields were paid for through the Astros Community Leaders program and completed at no cost to taxpayers.
"Supporting health and wellness within our communities comes naturally to us," said Shara McClure, Vice President, Network Management, BCBSTX. "Through our partnership with the Houston Astros we're fortunate to bring a safe place for families to engage in healthy, fun activities, such as baseball."
"We are deeply grateful to The Astros Foundation and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas for improving our ballfields because they are also improving the lives of many children and families,"' said Ruben Velasquez, president of Dixie Little League. "To have them choose to partner with us and provide so many extras, it's a blessing that will make our whole community stronger."
Construction at the first ballfields began in the fall of 2012. With the addition of the newly renovated fields at Ingrando Park, 11 fields have been renovated through the Community Leaders program, and construction at additional fields is already underway. These revitalized public youth baseball and softball fields serve thousands of at-risk youth in Houston.
Rebuilding the Ingrando Park baseball fields is only one way that BCBSTX is reaching out to Houston residents. As part of BCBSTX's education and outreach initiative, Be Covered Texas, the company is participating in community events throughout Houston and the state, to work with Texas' uninsured as they begin to understand how the new health care law impacts them. The Be Covered Texas campaign operates through community partners like community groups, direct service agencies, advocacy groups and neighborhood churches to reach those who could greatly benefit from the new health care law.
In conjunction with the team charity's other cornerstone program, the Astros Urban Youth Academy, The Astros Foundation is also developing additional programming to serve the youth teams that play at these parks, including baseball and softball clinics with the Astros current players and alumni and UYA instructors, donated equipment and special events. The youth teams partnering with the Community Leaders program will receive tickets to Astros games at Minute Maid Park, and the Houston-based corporations in the Community Leaders program, including BCBSTX, will also participate in occasional community service projects with their employees and other Astros Foundation-led special events at the fields throughout the year.
ABOUT THE ASTROS FOUNDATION:
The Astros Foundation is the official team charity of the Houston Astros. Led by Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane and his partners, the Astros Foundation seeks to harness the passion of baseball fans in our region to support our cornerstone charitable youth baseball and softball programs serving at-risk children and teens of Greater Houston. Those initiatives include the Astros Community Leaders program, the Astros Urban Youth Academy and the Astros RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) league. The Executive Director of the Astros Foundation is Astros Sr. VP of Community Relations Meg Vaillancourt. For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.astros.com/foundation or email firstname.lastname@example.org.