Phillies Phestival takes on ALS

Phillies Phestival takes on ALS

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies hosted fans at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday for their annual Phillies Phestival and raised $656,500 to help strike out Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a terminal illness with no known cause or cure.

For more than 30 years, the organization has partnered with the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association, and together they have raised a total of nearly $17.7 million.

Their history of charitable actions earned the team the Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence this past season.

"To receive this prestigious award is indeed an honor, and one that we dedicate to the patients and families who live with or have succumbed to this awful disease," Phillies chairman David Montgomery said in a November news release after his organization was singled out for its charitable contributions.

Fans in attendance took part in a range of activities centered around donations. Dice-rolling games for prizes, a chance to throw in the bullpen and player autograph stations could be found all around the ballpark.

The experience for the players and coaches is meaningful, taking them out of their everyday baseball routines to work with volunteers, the players' wives, and team and ballpark staff to give back to the fans and children while promoting and building awareness for ALS.

"I've been involved with this since it was a fashion show," Phillies third-base coach Juan Samuel said of the event's early years in the 1980s. "Any time I get a chance to come out and help out to eliminate a disease, it's something great that the organization is trying to do."

For third-year pitcher Jerad Eickhoff, his role as a recognized professional baseball player comes with this added responsibility to help raise awareness for worthy causes.

"It's very important [to give back like this]," Eickhoff said. "This is what it's all about, that's what this platform is for. Any time we can use that platform to give back and help others, it's the right thing to do."

Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.