Austin Adkins, 16, from Shreveport, La.; Daniel Escalona, 11, of Oak Park, Ill.; William Hennessey, 8, from Marietta, Ga.; Michael Motycka, 16, of Sarasota, Fla.; Matthew Johnson, 17, from Yorkville, Ill.; Kevin Simone, 17, of Orange, Conn., and the kids' 18 family members were the recipients of this dream trip.
"I think it will be fun, I like being here [rather] than being at home a lot," said Adkins, who said he's a Cubs fan and he'll be rooting for the National League in the All-Star Game. When his mother told him he was selected to come to the All-Star Game, he said, "I was thrilled"
The kids and their families will take in all the sights of All-Star Week. They will go to the John Hancock All-Star FanFest to see "baseball heaven on earth" and visit the Build-A-Bear workshop to create their own customized stuffed animals. Additionally, they will attend Taco Bell All-Star Sunday's events, including the XM Satellite Futures Game and the Legends and the Celebrities Softball Game. They will have a chance to meet both of the Futures Game Managers, George Brett and Guillermo Hernandez, and the softball players on the field prior to the games.
On Monday, the kids will hobnob with the VIPs at the All-Star press conference and meet the game's players and managers. Then they will head to Gatorade All-Star Workout Day to watch the Century 21 Home Run Derby. On Tuesday, the children will visit Comerica Park to take in batting practice and the highlight of the week, the 76th Midsummer Classic.
"It's fulfilling kids' dreams. ... The special circumstances these kids are under, we're just happy to add a little extra hand in there, make their days a little brighter, make them a little happier," said Tom Brasuell, vice president of community affairs for MLB. "It's a special thing, if their wish is to come to the All-Star Game, we're going to try our best to do what we can to help them and make the experience extra special."
Several other MLB representatives were on hand to welcome the Make-A-Wish kids to town, including Tim Brosnan, executive VP, business; Jacqueline Parkes, senior VP, marketing and advertising; Sharon Robinson, VP, educational programming and Jana Perry, manager of community affairs and educational programming. Bearemy, from the Build-A-Bear workshop, came to visit the kids at the reception as well.
The six families had a chance to meet the MLB and Make-A-Wish representatives and get to know the other participating families. The kids were happy to meet everyone and learn about all the festivities they will take part in throughout the week.
"I'm excited, I'm totally pumped for this," said Simone, who said he's a Yankees fan and he's rooting for the American League in the All-Star Game. "I've always followed baseball, and since I got surgery, it's really the only sport I can play. I've just been following it since I was a kid."
The children received an assortment of gifts from MLB and its partners. Each of them received a cutomized All-Star jersey, an All-Star hat and T-shirt, a Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers video, a giant, baseball-themed Pez dispenser, a bag full of baseball goodies, a personal XM satelite radio with a free lifetime subscription and a tote bag of other fun items from XM.
MLB has granted more than 50 wishes to Make-A-Wish children at its "jewel" events, and both organizations look forward to the continued partnership in the future.
"I think one of the things Major League Baseball understands very clearly are wishes and dreams, because they make stars -- out of a homegrown boy that wants to be a baseball player -- so when we approach them on wishes, they really get it," said Kerryann Tomlinson, senior manager of celebrity and mission resources for Make-A-Wish. "They understand what that whole idea of a 'wish' is, and they put their all into it."