CHICAGO - Chicago White Sox hitter Jose Abreu launched "Abreu's Amigos" - a community program with the Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago (ESMC) Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research. Passionate about supporting children with special needs, Abreu built the program with ESMC to focus on providing regular opportunities for students with special needs to develop social skills in a recreational setting through field trips to the ballpark.
"The Easter Seals' mission to create opportunities for children with special needs to live, learn and play is very important to me," said Abreu. "I am grateful to start this long-term program that will help make a difference in the lives of the students."
Abreu also presented a $10,000 donation to ESMC before inviting students to participate in a baseball clinic on the White Sox Field at the school, which the team helped to build in 2008. Teammates Emilio Bonifacio, Melky Cabrera and Alexei Ramirez joined Abreu to help teach ESMC students adapted baseball skills alongside Bulls/Sox Academy coaches.
"Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago is thankful for our long-time partnership with the White Sox. We are delighted about the launch of Abreu's Amigos and Jose's personal commitment to our students," said Tim Muri, ESMC president and CEO. "Together, Jose Abreu, the White Sox and Easter Seals are committed to providing opportunities for socialization, independence, recreation and friendship for students with autism and other special needs."
As part of the program, students participating in Abreu's Amigos will visit U.S. Cellular Field throughout the season for meet-and-greet opportunities with Abreu. The visits are designed to support social development in real-world situations. Research shows that extracurricular activity can increase levels of social engagement and self confidence in individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Abreu joins the White Sox and its longstanding commitment to supporting children with special needs. In addition to building "White Sox Field" for the school in 2008, Chicago White Sox Charities (CWSC) presented a $1 million grant to ESMC.
"Chicago White Sox Charities has long been a supporter of Easter Seals and their mission," said Christine O'Reilly, executive director of CWSC and vice president of community relations for the White Sox. "We are very proud that Jose is building upon the White Sox legacy of support through the Abreu's Amigos program."