Andrus has holiday fun with Special Olympics

Rangers shortstop takes part in club's Young Athletes Program

Andrus has holiday fun with Special Olympics

ARLINGTON -- Four days before Christmas, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was out spreading holiday cheer. It's what he does.

Andrus was at the Rangers Hall of Fame at Globe Life Park on Monday night, hosting 27 athletes and parents of the Special Olympics Youth Athletes Program to a special holiday meal. There was also face painting, balloon making and cookie decorating to complete the festivities.

"It's about continuing to give back," Andrus said. "These kids are so amazing and unbelievable. I keep learning about them with every opportunity I get. This is awesome, celebrating Christmas and having fun."

The Young Athletes Program is a sports play program designed to introduce children ages 2-7 to the importance of physical activity. Children with and without intellectual disabilities participate together, prior to and regardless of Special Olympics eligibility at age 8.

The program uses physical activities to develop fundamental motor tracking and eye-hand coordination play. Children build these skills by participating in specific activities on a regular basis. The program concentrates on applying the skills learned through these activities in preparation for Special Olympics or traditional sports activities.

"They are amazing," Andrus said. "Every time I sit down and talk to them, I am amazed at how smart they are. To hang out with them, they make my night. I'm not here for them, they are here for me. To see their joy is amazing."

Andrus was there with his family and was joined by teammate Robinson Chirinos. The event was organized by Rangers assistant vice president for player relations Taunee Paur Taylor, and her staff.

"Taunee always helps me a lot," Andrus said. "She is a big help for me in the offseason, always there to be able to help children like this."

Andrus' work in the community is one of many reasons why he won the 2015 Harold McKinney Good Guy Award presented by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Andrus will be honored during the 2016 Texas Rangers Dr Pepper Awards Dinner on Jan. 22 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine.

"It means a lot, for sure," Andrus said. "It's an honor to get that award. I like to help whenever it is needed or just say something that will help people have a great day."

Also being honored is former third baseman Dean Palmer. He will receive the Mark Holtz Alumni Award. Palmer played for the Rangers from 1989-97, hitting 38 home runs and driving in 107 runs in 1996 when they won the first division championship in club history.

Tickets for the banquet can be purchased at texasrangers.com/awards. Other club honorees include Player of the Year Prince Fielder, Pitcher of the Year Shawn Tolleson, Rookie of the Year Delino DeShields and the Richard Durrett Hardest Working Player Rougned Odor.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.