ANAHEIM -- Albert and Deidre Pujols have long established their reputations as two of the baseball community's most charitable citizens. Since 2005, they've run the Pujols Family Foundation, an organization that supports families of children with Down syndrome and impoverished people in the Dominican Republic.
Now, the couple is teaming up to raise money and awareness to help combat another global issue: Human trafficking and the epidemic of modern-day slavery. On Saturday, they hosted Strike Out Slavery Day at Angel Stadium to educate fans about the $32 billion industry that enslaves 45.8 million people in 167 countries, according to figures compiled by the Global Slavery Index.
"This was not something that I was necessarily going after," Deidre said at a press conference last month. "It came after me."
Deidre, a mother of five, first became aware of the magnitude of the issue last year and soon became consumed with helping to support the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. She traveled to places like Mexico City and Cambodia to educate herself about these types of crimes. When she returned from her travels, Deidre felt compelled to use her husband's platform to raise awareness.
She and Albert decided to launch Strike Out Slavery, an initiative meant to raise funds for eight non-profits organizations that work to end human trafficking.
"I'm so proud of her," Albert said. "I'm really excited because I see her heart is in this. She makes the time to care for people and since I met her that's what she's been. That's why I call her Wonder Woman."
After Saturday's game, Nick Jonas was set to perform a free postgame concert for fans at Angel Stadium to support the cause.
"It's one thing to support a cause, it's another thing what Deidre and Albert are doing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "She's out there on the frontlines of this. She's visited a lot of areas around the globe to not only educate people, but to start to put up battle lines of trying to alleviate this issue. It says a lot to their commitment. They're not just writing checks and sitting back. They're out there in the fight, and I think that says a lot about what they're about. They're totally committed to it. Tonight's a great night for it."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.