Make-A-Wish kids to enjoy memorable All-Star Week

Children will attend a concert, FanFest and get to meet players at All-Star Game

MINNEAPOLIS -- From the 50th floor of the IDS Center in Minneapolis, the six guests of honor at Saturday night's Make-A-Wish Welcome Reception didn't need to search out the window long before locating Target Field in the city grid.

With their families in tow, the six boys gaped at the baseball stadium from a bird's-eye view before kicking off their All-Star Week in style.

Saturday's event included several speakers, including Sharon Robinson (MLB educational consultant and daughter of Jackie Robinson) and Vera Clemente (MLB goodwill ambassador and wife of Roberto Clemente). A group of MLB mascots and Futures Game players were also in attendance.

"Sports are always at the top of the list of Make-A-Wish kids," said Tom Brasuell, MLB's vice president of community affairs and Saturday's emcee. "Coming out to a local ballgame is fantastic, but coming out here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The All-Star Game has hosted families for 30 years, and teams have been making an impact on the local level for decades.

Here's how it works: If a child has a verifiably life-threatening medical condition, they're guaranteed a wish by the Make-A-Wish foundation. Volunteers go to the family's home to help the child decide what that wish is.

"Kids can pick anything they want," said Tom McKinney, CEO of the Minnesota Make-A-Wish. "And what they want to do is meet a ballplayer and see a game. It changes their life. They look forward to that event, and then that's a memory they'll have forever."

The welcome reception was the beginning of a long list of activities this week: The kids will go to an Imagine Dragons concert, FanFest, Mall of America and hang out with Hall of Famers and current players before attending Tuesday's All-Star Game (watch on FOX).

They kicked off the week by collecting customized All-Star jerseys, bats and backpacks at the IDS Center.

"Our Commissioner says baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities," said Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice president of business. "One of those is to let people in on our thing who otherwise might not get in on it as closely as we do.

"What makes you so special, is you told us how much you want to be a part of our thing. We really are grateful for your wish that you'd like to be a part of our family."

McKinney said that one of the program's most attractive qualities is the ability to make any child's dream a reality.

"It never gets old, because it's different for each child," McKinney said. "It's tailored to them. They're all here rooting different players on, cheering different teams. It means so much to not only them, but their families."

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Alex M. Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @asmiff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.