HOUSTON, TX - In support of the ongoing commitment from Major League Baseball, its Clubs and the players to increase opportunities for youth participation in baseball and softball, the Houston Astros are teaming up with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) to host an equipment collection drive during the Astros-Mariners series at Minute Maid Park. On Sunday, July 21, fans are invited to donate new and used equipment, which will benefit the Astros Urban Youth Academy.
In conjunction with the equipment drive, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund will award a grant of $5,000 to the Special Olympics Texas of Greater Houston for the purchase of new supplies and equipment. Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell, who is in his first year as a BTF Player Ambassador, will be on hand to present a ceremonial check to representatives from the Special Olympics Texas of Greater Houston during a pre-game ceremony on July 21. Over 200 Special Olympics athletes and their families will attend the game, courtesy of the Astros. Astros President of Business Operation Reid Ryan and Senior Vice President of Community Relations and Executive Director of The Astros Foundation Meg Vaillancourt will also be on hand for the pregame check presentation.
This year marks the ninth season the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has teamed with Major League Baseball Clubs to supplement their existing equipment collection programs and to help facilitate the creation of new programs.
Last year, over 12,000 pieces of equipment and nearly $300,000 in monetary contributions were donated to youth baseball and softball organizations in all Major League markets in conjunction with the Equipment Day initiative. To date, over 100,000 pieces of equipment and approximately $1,550,000 in total monetary donations have benefited organizations in need across the nation.
"As we celebrate the ninth season of the Equipment Day initiative, we are excited to see the program continue to grow and expand in its reach," says Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. "The Clubs, players, and fans are an integral part of the program's success in giving more children in our communities access to baseball and softball."
Special Olympics Texas provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Special Olympics Texas of Greater Houston has over 4,400 athletes involved in over 19 sports.
Equipment donated at the gates of Minute Maid Park on Sunday, July 21 will be donated to the Astros Urban Youth Academy. Run and funded by The Astros Foundation, the Urban Youth Academy provides free baseball and softball instruction, life skills training and academic support to Houston youth, with a focus on serving inner city and at-risk children and teens.
About the Baseball Tomorrow Fund
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) is a joint initiative between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses. Since its formation by MLB and the MLBPA in 1999, BTF has awarded more than 700 grants totaling $24 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia. Approximately 330,000 youth players have benefited from programs and facilities supported by the fund. BTF also facilitates league-wide initiatives including the collection and distribution of new and gently used equipment to organizations in need as well as field maintenance education clinics. For more information, visit baseballtomorrowfund.com and follow BTF on Facebook, Twitter and MLBlogs.
For information about The Astros Foundation and Urban Youth Academy, visit www.astros.com/foundation.