All-Star Week to bring lasting community benefits

All-Star Week to bring lasting community benefits

All-Star Week to bring lasting community benefits
KANSAS CITY -- The people of Kansas City are ready to experience the rush of Major League Baseball's All-Star Week, and here is perhaps the best part about hosting the summer spectacle: It stays with you long after the last pitch on Tuesday.

Leading up to the 83rd All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium, MLB and the Royals will unveil the most extensive and lasting legacy endeavor in All-Star Week history through projects that benefit the Kansas City community and beyond.

The efforts feature Habitat for Humanity home builds in partnership with families impacted by tornadoes; renovations to youth baseball/softball, veteran and youth facilities; support for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; support for youth outreach programs; scholarships for college-bound students; raising funds and awareness for cancer organizations; and highlighting the importance of environmental consciousness.

"The All-Star Game is a celebration of our sport, and one of its great traditions is giving back to the communities that host our festivities," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "All of us at Major League Baseball are honored to partner with the Royals and use the unique platform of the Midsummer Classic to help many worthy organizations and communities of the Kansas City area and beyond."

The MLB community events begin on Friday and continue through Tuesday's big game between the National League and American League, which begins at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

MLB and the Royals will donate nearly $4 million from a portion of the proceeds from Monday's Gatorade All-Star Workout Day toward a variety of local and national organizations, including Stand Up To Cancer, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Operation Breakthrough, among others. More than $48 million has been donated to non-profits since 1997 from that day's proceeds.

MLB, State Farm, the MLB Players Trust and Holiday Inn have teamed up with Habitat for Humanity in an effort to build nine new homes in partnership with low-income families in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. -- two of the communities devastated by tornadoes in April and May 2011. Two of the nine homes will be framed during All-Star Week in a section of the parking lot at Kauffman Stadium, and the work will be supported by volunteers from State Farm, which is funding the cost of more than half of the nine homes, and Holiday Inn.

The build sites at Kauffman Stadium will be visited by 2012 All-Stars, participants in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, Royals legends and more. In addition to the two homes being framed in Kansas City, five of the nine homes already have been completed, and construction on the final two will conclude in the fall. Fans may text ALLSTAR to 25383 to donate $10 to support Habitat's disaster response work. Holiday Inn will match donations and/or contribute funding to guarantee a donation of $60,000.

All-Star Week schedule of community events:

FRIDAY

Challenger-Champions Game: Special-needs children from Little League's Challenger and PONY Baseball/Softball Champions divisions will play a one-inning game on the outfield grass at Kauffman Stadium, with the help of volunteers from the Royals.

Jr. RBI Classic Opening Ceremonies: The official start of the fourth annual friendly, round-robin tournament designed to provide hundreds of young Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) baseball and softball players an opportunity to participate in All-Star Week. The tournament consists of eight baseball and four softball teams of 11- and 12-year-olds from around the U.S. and Canada. Opening ceremonies will be held at Satchel Paige Stadium, which had its field completely renovated thanks to MLB All-Star Legacy funding and product donations by Scotts.

Starlight Fun Center Dedication: MLB and the Royals, in partnership with Starlight Children's Foundation, will unveil a Fun Center mobile entertainment unit at Children's Mercy Hospital. The unit features a Nintendo Wii, DVD player and a Sharp AQUOS LCD TV, and it easily rolls up to the side of young patients' beds or anywhere in a hospital setting.

Baseball Tomorrow Fund field renovation: Cleveland Park serves nearly 800 players in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City RBI league, and renovations will be unveiled the first day of the Jr. RBI Classic. To improve the condition of fields and increase the number of local RBI participants, the BTF -- a joint initiative between MLB and the MLB Players Association -- awarded a grant of $50,000 to provide funding for renovations, which included infield mix, laser grading and drainage surrounding the four fields at the park.

The BTF also will participate in a ceremonial check presentation in the amount of $150,000 at Kauffman Stadium prior to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday to celebrate the eighth year of the BTF Equipment Day Program. Additional participants include BTF board members and executives from MLB and MLBPA, along with Futures Game managers George Brett and Bernie Williams.

SATURDAY

MLB All-Star "Rebuilding Together" Project: As an extension of MLB's commitment to Welcome Back Veterans, renovations were made to the Kansas City V.A. Honor Annex, which will provide special services for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and female veterans. Renovations, led by the national non-profit Rebuilding Together, include creating family-friendly, baseball-themed play areas in the waiting area for patients' children, improving aesthetics of the clinic offices and meetings areas, and enhancing the landscape surrounding the facility.

Bank of America supported this project by committing its employees as volunteers and more than $66,000, and its All-Star Week support for the military also features interactive action at MLB All-Star FanFest/Kansas City Convention Center, where fans can write words of thanks to troops on balls that will be used to create a patriotic mosaic; and at MLB All-Star Sponsor Zone/Kauffman Stadium, where visitors will have a chance to hit a ball over a military vehicle. For each activity, the bank will donate $1 to USO Fort Riley, up to a maximum of $20,000.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Independence (Mo.) unit: MLB and the Royals will unveil badly needed renovations made to the historic club's interior and exterior, with assistance from Magical Builders. Improvements to the newly named "Independence Unit" include new classrooms and new restrooms, an expanded kitchen, landscaping improvements, furniture and an improved HVAC system.

SUNDAY

"They Were All-Stars" Travel Exhibit Unveil: With help from MLB All-Star Legacy Funds, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has created a new, dynamic traveling exhibit that will display historical photos, video and text of and about former Negro Leagues players who became MLB All-Stars after the integration of baseball in 1947. Fans will be able to learn about such legends as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Monte Irvin and Don Newcombe, while also gaining an understanding of the impact baseball has as a tool for social change.

All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run presented by Nike: The third running of this event follows an All-Star-themed course that begins and ends in the downtown Power and Light District. Hall of Famer George Brett will serve as the Official Race Starter and will captain a fundraising team, the "Brett 5 Team." David Cook, the 2008 "American Idol" winner, will run the race and be among those presenting medals, along with other celebs. MLB will donate all net proceeds to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer and the Greater Kansas City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

MONDAY

Operation Breakthrough Renovation: MLB and the Royals will unveil completion of the project to help the Operation Breakthrough daycare center improve its after-school and summer enrichment programs for low-income families by creating classroom environments to increase children's ability to concentrate and learn. Renovations made to the facility's infrastructure, with assistance from Magical Builders, included replacing ceiling, drywall, glass and windows, installing new walls and doors, painting and electrical work and sprinkler relocation.

TUESDAY

Mulkey Square Park Field Renovation: Renovations to the baseball field at this park, primarily used by the Guadalupe Center Youth Baseball program, include the installation of a new irrigation system and scoreboard, infield and outfield maintenance, new infield skin, fencing construction and installation, backstops, dugouts and other improvements to the facility surrounding the field. Scotts is donating products for this and other All-Star Week projects.

Environmental impact also is a key topic for any modern All-Star Week. MLB will build on its continued commitment to the environment and its partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council by incorporating a wide variety of environmentally-sensitive efforts. Examples include addressing energy and water usage through efficiency measures and by investing in renewable energy offsets and water restoration credits; prioritizing recycling at All-Star events; public service announcements in-stadium; incorporating eco-friendly materials; and collecting and donating unused food.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.