Wright swings big for children

Wright swings big for children

Since its inception in 2005, the David Wright Foundation has established as its mission the development of educational and healthcare-related initiatives for needy children in the New York, Tri-State and Norfolk, VA metropolitan areas. Consistent with those goals, the foundation undertook multiple community-oriented projects this past fall, with the three-time All-Star third baseman at its helm.

"I feel like I have been blessed and put in a position to help those who are less fortunate than me," Wright said of his foundation's work, echoing a spirit that his recent work has certainly embodied.

In early November, Wright welcomed hundreds of guests to his fourth annual "Do the Wright Thing" gala, which returned to the Hard Rock Café in Manhattan's Times Square. One of the foundation's primary fundraisers, the gala has helped Wright to achieve a reputation as one of baseball's foremost young philanthropists, adding to a body of work that earned him the club's most recent nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award.

"I realized at a relatively young age that when I wear my Mets uniform I automatically become a role model," Wright said. "I can use the name on the front of the jersey as well as the name on the back to try and do some good things in the community."

The event was headlined by Season 7 "American Idol" winner David Cook, who serenaded the crowd with a new hit from his debut album. Cook and Wright met last spring, when the singer threw out the first pitch at a Shea Stadium game, and have since found a shared interest in the endeavors that Wright works so hard to support.

Another such endeavor for the foundation this past fall was its work with the Badges for Baseball program, a Virginia-based initiative that promotes healthy extra-curricular programs among the state's youth. The program -- based in Wright's native Norfolk -- uses baseball-related activities to forge relationships between law enforcement personnel and the at-risk youth population. Since its founding in 2007, Badges for Baseball has received extensive support in its attempt to develop the "Healthy Choices, Healthy Children" curriculum among roughly 1,500 Virginian children and adolescents.

The David Wright Foundation made a $25,000 donation to the program in late November, supplementing the financial support that had previously been provided by such organizations as Cal Ripken Baseball and RBI baseball. According to the foundation's administrators, the DWF's generous contribution will help to keep Badges for Baseball running for many years to come. Wright also took the time to visit the program's headquarters at the Norfolk Police Department, signing autographs and posing for pictures with adults and children alike.

Finally, the foundation provided a $25,000 contribution to launch the "Do the Wright Thing Lending Library." Located at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughter in Norfolk, this initiative will allow sick children the opportunity to check out games, Sony PlayStation®, DVDs and assorted electronics from their bedsides in hopes of alleviating stress and providing an outlet during a time of great need.

"I have always been fascinated with the programs and especially the children at CHKD," said Wright of the hospital, which has for years provided services to the residents of his hometown.

In conjunction with his donation, Wright made a special visit to the hospital, arriving on a November 25th morning that undoubtedly boosted the morale of many sick young patients. The 26-year-old went room-to-room, shaking hands and signing autographs in an effort that underscored the mission of his foundation rather perfectly.

"I have been to CHKD a handful of times to visit and I've always felt a connection with the children and enjoyed the smiles on their faces," said Wright.

As 2009 commences, one can only imagine that Wright and his foundation will continue to inspire those smiles.

Corey Gottlieb is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.