Major League Baseball today announced that for the second consecutive year MLB Clubs will dedicate a special "Childhood Cancer Awareness Day" at all ballparks on Friday, September 1st in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In partnership with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), MLB and MLB Clubs will raise awareness for the fight against childhood cancer by having all Major League players, coaches, umpires and grounds crew members wear gold ribbon decals and wristbands. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children aged 15 and under in the United States. Every year, an estimated 300,000 new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide.
Through this effort, Clubs may choose to partner with local nonprofits, including hospital partners or organizations focused on childhood cancer. Clubs and players may also donate tickets, ballpark suites and funds to Stand Up To Cancer and local partner organizations. Club activations may also include pregame ceremonies, first pitches, check presentations to nonprofits and hospitals, online campaigns and special childhood cancer awareness batting practice t-shirts.
Additionally, in collaboration with Major League Baseball and Starlight Children's Foundation, five Clubs (Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays) will present local pediatric cancer hospitals or individual pediatric cancer care units with Starlight Fun Centers -- mobile entertainment units equipped with the latest Nintendo WiiU game system to provide bedside entertainment to pediatric patients. Hospitals selected by the Clubs will also receive a donation of Starlight Brave Gowns, the newest program from Starlight that is revolutionizing children's hospital gowns by transforming them into high quality, comfortable and brightly colored gowns.
Clubs on the road on September 1st may select another home game to observe Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. Below are a few examples of unique Club activations:
- Chicago White Sox: On Friday, September 1st, White Sox players along with mascot Southpaw will visit patients and their families at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, signing autographs and delivering White Sox gifts in the Family Life Center and play area of the Infusion Center. Later that day, young patients from hospital will don special gold White Sox capes, while participating in pregame activities, including the "Kids Take the Field" event and announcing "Play ball." The White Sox also will team up with Love Your Melon, an organization that provides hats to children battling cancer, to hold "Love Your Melon Night" on Tuesday, September 5th, offering the first 500 ticket purchasers a special package that includes a game ticket and a White Sox beanie. A portion of each ticket sold will be donated to Love Your Melon's nonprofit partners, supporting the field of pediatric oncology, cancer research and immediate support for families of children battling cancer.
- Miami Marlins: The Marlins and UMPS CARE Charities, an organization founded by MLB Umpires to provide financial and emotional support for youth and families in need, will partner to host a Build-A-Bear™ workshop at Alex's Place at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates will collaborate with local nonprofit organizations that focus on pediatric cancer to host 25 children and their families at PNC Park on Friday, September 1st. The Club will host a special pregame ceremony that will see players, coaches and wives provide the children with special Pirates capes. The Pirates will donate proceeds from an in-game 50/50 raffle to participating organizations.
- San Francisco Giants: On Saturday, September 2nd, the Giants will partner with Buster Posey, his wife Kristen, Esurance and the V Foundation for a series of activations. Activities will include a home plate ceremony with childhood cancer patients and their families, a special meet and greet for the patients and their families with the Poseys, a check presentation from Esurance's "Quotes for a Cure" campaign, and Giants players donning the Buster Posey Pediatric Cancer Awareness Cap during batting practice. The Giants will also offer a special ticketing package that includes a game ticket and a Posey bobble head presented by Esurance, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Buster & Kristen Posey Fund at the V Foundation -- an organization founded by ESPN and legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano with the mission of beating cancer.
- Atlanta Braves: As part of their activation on September 10th, the Braves will host a group of children affected by cancer for pregame ceremonies. Special guests will be treated to an on-field parade prior to the game, and one special guest will have the opportunity to deliver the rosin bag to the pitcher's mound. The Braves will also award four pediatric cancer survivors with the Diamond of Courage Award, which recognizes those who have made a difference in the cancer outreach community. Each participating nonprofit will select a child to present their organization for this award (Cure, Curing Kids Cancer, Camp Sunshine and Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research). Braves pitcher Jason Motte will provide gold "Strikeout Cancer" T-shirts for all players to wear to and from the ballpark.
- Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays will partner with CureSearch, a national nonprofit organization focused on accelerating the search for cures in pediatric cancer, and the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital (JHACH) to honor Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. As part of the Club's support of CureSearch, the Rays will sponsor the organization's marquee event "Superheroes Unite!," a fundraising walk benefitting cancer research and treatment. The Rays mascot, Raymond, will lead an inpatient walk on Friday, September 15th, for those who cannot participate in "Superheroes Unite!" due to their medical condition. In addition, the Rays will donate a catered suite for the organization to use as a fundraising prize. On September 17th, the Club will host patients from JHACH at Tropicana Field to participate in a series of activities, including the "Kids Take the Field" event, Honorary Bat Kid and Play Ball Kid ceremonies, radio interviews, and the 7th inning stretch.
- Cincinnati Reds: On Sunday, September 24th, the Reds will partner with The Cure Starts Now, a local organization committed to finding a cure for cancer, to hold a group fundraiser. The Reds will also collaborate with Love Your Melon, an organization that provides hats to children battling cancer, to offer fans a special ticketing package including a game ticket and a beanie. A portion of each ticket sold will be donated to a pediatric cancer charity. The package will be available for games on September 15th, 17th and 21st.
Recent childhood cancer awareness activations by Clubs have included special pediatric cancer awareness batting practice t-shirts, online campaigns to empower fans to become fundraisers for pediatric cancer research and donations to local children's hospitals. Previous league-wide efforts included a $1 million donation to the CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation. MLB and Clubs have supported the fight against cancer through a variety of initiatives for many years. As Stand Up To Cancer's founding donor, Major League Baseball has provided both financial support (more than $40 million) and opportunities to raise awareness for Stand Up To Cancer's efforts by encouraging fans around the world to get involved. MLB has recognized SU2C at its jewel events since the 2009 World Series.