Winners of the 2014 Breaking Barriers essay contest announced

Major League Baseball and Scholastic announced that Raymond Beasley V, a 5th grader from Brentwood, California, and Michael Andaloro, a ninth grade student from Phoenix, Arizona, were selected as Grand Prize winners of the 2014 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life Essay Contest, which garnered nearly 19,000 essays from students around the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Raymond wrote an essay about his determination to overcome a myriad of issues he faced after several brain surgeries related to a tumor, all the while maintaining that he has an "outstanding life." In Michael's essay, he explains what it is like to be the only deaf student at his school, and how he uses persistence, teamwork, and a commitment to excellence to be a successful and engaging student. Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, MLB Educational Programming Consultant and author, will join Raymond and Michael when both young men are recognized at the 85th MLB All-Star Game at Target Field and the 2014 World Series, respectively.        

All Grand and First Prize winners, along with their teachers, and Second Prize winners will each receive a laptop computer, provided by Microsoft, as well as a set of Breaking Barriers T-shirts for their class and a book authored by Sharon Robinson. Celebrating its 18th year, the Breaking Barriers essay contest asks students in grades four through nine to submit an essay describing their perseverance in overcoming barriers or obstacles they have faced or are still facing in their lives by using the values demonstrated by Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson as he broke baseball's color barrier. These values are commitment, citizenship, courage, determination, excellence, justice, persistence, teamwork, and integrity.  

"Jackie Robinson's courage on April 15, 1947 represents the proudest and most powerful moment in baseball history," Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said. "The Breaking Barriers program is an extraordinary testament to Jackie's values and the manner in which they continue to inspire people of all ages. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate all the winners of this year's essay contest, and I particularly recognize Raymond and Michael, whom I look forward to meeting at this year's Midsummer Classic and World Series."

"The number of essays we received this year is phenomenal - they were uplifting and truly inspiring," said Sharon Robinson. "I am honored that the values my father used to break the color barrier have played such a large role in helping so many young people break through their own barriers. I am so happy for all of our winners and I look forward to meeting them."

The list of national winners is as follows:

Grand Prize

Raymond Beasley V, Grade 5, Brentwood, CA
Michael Andaloro, Grade 9, Phoenix, AZ

First Prize

Peter Zucca, Grade 4, Telford, PA
Christian Leigh, Grade 5, Port Jefferson Station, NY
Drew Becker, Grade 8, Heber City, UT
Ruth Murdoch, Grade 8, Sudlersville, MD

Second Prize

Nyahla Hubbard, Grade 5, LaGrange, GA
Mahiur Rahman, Grade 5, Norwalk, CT
Noah Williams, Grade 6, Dickson, TN
Jordan Edith, Grade 7, Richmond Heights, OH

Breaking Barriers was developed by MLB, Sharon Robinson, and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education, and media company. The program is supported by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., makers of ARM & HAMMER™ and OxiClean™ and an official sponsor of Major League Baseball, which is making an annual donation of $150,000 to the program from 2014 through 2016. Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life has reached more than 22 million children and 2.9 million educators in the continental United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Sharon Robinson is the author of several widely-praised nonfiction books and novels for children. In her book, Jackie Robinson: American Hero (Scholastic; March 2013), a biography and history lesson for young readers, Sharon pays tribute to her father's memory and introduces Jackie Robinson to a new generation of readers. For more information about Sharon Robinson, please visit www.sharonrobinsonink.com.  

For additional information on Breaking Barriers, please visit mlbcommunity.org/breakingbarriers.