Blue Jays, Jays Care tabbed 'Sports Team of the Year'

Blue Jays, Jays Care tabbed 'Sports Team of the Year'

April 4, 2014, was a day of excitement and anticipation for Blue Jays fans from coast to coast; the boys of summer were finally back home and ready to take on the New York Yankees in the Honda Home Opener. It was a cold and dreary day, but if you looked past the rain you could sense the hallmarks of summer -- hot dogs grilling outside the stadium, thousands of people draped in their blue and white, a palpable excitement for the season ahead. For many Blue Jays fans, April 4 was the culmination of a long winter -- one made more uncomfortable by the long absence of their favourite game. For the Toronto Blue Jays, April 4 was also the culmination of a different variety -- it was the night they would be honored with the 2013 "Sports Team of the Year" Award from Beyond Sport International.

Beyond Sport is an international organization dedicated to promoting, developing and supporting "the use of sport to create positive social change across the world." In 2013, Beyond Sport selected the Toronto Blue Jays, from a pool of 400 applicants representing 130 different countries, as the eventual winner.

Representatives from Beyond Sport were invited to join special guests - including Jays Care Foundation board members, Blue Jays management, Rogers CEO Guy Lawrence, Jays Care Foundation Executive Director Danielle Bedasse, Minister of Sport Bal Gosal, and Hall-of-Famer Roberto Alomar - in the Jays Care Community Clubhouse to watch the first home game of the season, and present the award during the middle of the sixth inning.

Beyond Sport Founder, Nick Keller, praised both the city of Toronto and the Blue Jays.

"One of the great things about Toronto is the diversity of the city - diversity and difference makes us strong, and I think Toronto is a perfect example of that," explained Keller. "There [is] a selflessness from the Blue Jays in terms of reaching out across the whole of Canada The Blue Jays have achieved remarkable things, not only in their local community, but across Canada. Their work sets the standard on a global scale."

The award was accepted on behalf of the Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation by Hall-of-Famer Roberto Alomar. The presentation was shown live on the Rogers Centre Video Board, where fans showed their appreciation for Alomar's efforts with cheers and applause.

"I'm proud to accept this award for the Blue Jays," said Alomar. "I believe in the work that Jays Care does and I am happy to work with them as much as I can."

"I've always been a big Jays fan," said The Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of Sport, who accepted an invitation from Jays Care to attend the award presentation. "All across Canada, they have fans and they do a lot of great work - especially the Jays Care Foundation - I really wanted to come and see what they do and talk with them about the communities where they make improvements."

"The Toronto Blue Jays, through Jays Care Foundation, are tremendously honoured to receive this award," said Danielle Bedasse, Executive Director, Jays Care Foundation. "As the only MLB team in Canada, we have made a commitment to not just children and communities in Toronto or Ontario, but across the entire country."

2013 marked the second consecutive year that the Blue Jays, through the efforts of Jays Care Foundation, were awarded with international recognition for the Club's philanthropic efforts. In 2012, the Toronto Blue Jays received the "Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence," awarded by Commissioner Selig to one MLB team each season.