The Kane County Cougars organization strives to maintain their commitment to serving communities throughout Chicagoland, and the 2012 season of Cougars baseball included numerous examples of that philosophy.
Monthly Charity Initiatives. Throughout the 2012 season, the Cougars raised money for a number of causes through ballpark promotions for fans including the 50/50 raffle and Pitch In for Charity ball toss, along with a charitable match from the Cougars organization. The Cougars donated a total of $28,500 to four causes during the 2012 season through their monthly charity initiatives: The Eric Lederman Memorial Fund, Valley Sheltered Workshop, Misericordia Home and the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Ozzie’s Home Run and Walk 5K. The Cougars’ 5K charity run and walk, held on May 19, raised $1,500 for the Illinois Special Olympics.
“Salute to Ron Santo” Night. The Cougars hosted a “Salute to Ron Santo” Night on June 2, where the Cougars welcomed representatives from JDRF, an organization that held close ties to former major leaguer Ron Santo. A portion of ticket proceeds from that night went to JDRF in the amount of $2,000.
Military Recognition. In conjunction with USO of Illinois, the Cougars welcomed 19 service men and women, along with their families, from the 318th Public Affairs Operations Center from Forest Park on June 3. The U.S. Army Reserve Unit, which was recognized during the game for their service, has been deployed to Iraq twice since 2002. The USO of Illinois’ mission is to enhance the quality of life of the U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families and to create a cooperative relationship between U.S. military communities and involved or supporting civilian communities. Also this summer, the Cougars held a partnership with Veteran Tickets Foundation, in which the Cougars organization donated 10 four-packs of tickets for each remaining regular season home game during the 2012 season. On July 6, the Cougars along with Fifth Third Bank hosted a Military Appreciation Night which included a pre-game parade, ceremonial first pitches by two WWII veterans, and a presence by numerous groups such as Folds of Honor, Heart of a Marine, and Portrait of a Solider.
Ozzie and Cougars In The Community. When the 2012 calendar year closes, Ozzie will have visited nearly 100 events throughout Chicagoland including hospitals, schools and festivals. Cougars players and coaches extended their presence with numerous community visits this season as well. Cougars staff lent a hand at Feed My Starving Children, the Northern Illinois Food Bank and other local causes.
Summer Reading Program. More than 50 community libraries in Geneva and surrounding towns took part in this year’s Roundtripper and summer reading programs, which rewarded children for their summer reading.
Ozzie’s Reading Club. In its 18th season, the Cougars’ reading program included nearly 135,000 students from 400 schools who improved their reading skills through Ozzie’s Reading Club. Regarded as one of the most successful and rewarding reading incentive programs in the Chicagoland area, Ozzie’s Reading Club allows teachers and reading specialists to set goals for students at different grade levels. Students receive rewards for reading a certain number of books or pages, with prizes awarded as they read their way to first base, second base, third base and finally, to home plate. Students hitting a home run received a ticket to a Cougars game, food voucher and a free t-shirt. Graduates were also recognized in a pre-game parade on the field. Registration is now open for the 2012-13 Ozzie’s Reading Club program, which includes a series of “Ozzie’s Scholars” scholarships to be awarded to both current and former members of Ozzie’s Reading Club.
Donations. Again this season, the Cougars assisted non-profit organizations including churches, schools, outing groups and others with charitable donations for fundraising events. When the 2012 calendar year closes, the Cougars will have assisted more than 2,000 non-profit organizations through donations of ticket vouchers, memorabilia and gift certificates. Those interested in soliciting a donation from the Cougars organization are encouraged to visit the “Community” page on kccougars.com to learn more.
High School Sports Business Seminars. This spring, the Cougars welcomed 1,000 high school students to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for a series of high school sports business seminars. Attending students were able to learn more about the business side of working in sports, along with exploring career opportunities in the field and even creating a between-innings promotion to possibly be used at a Cougars game.
MLB Pitch, Hit and Run Competition. On May 12, the Cougars hosted an MLB Pitch, Hit and Run competition that was open to area youth between the ages of 7 and 14.
Scout Nights. The Cougars welcomed more than 1,500 scouts and their families to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for their Memorial Day weekend campouts. In addition to enjoying a Cougars game, campers spent the night at the ballpark and enjoyed a hot breakfast the following morning. Scouts also earned a badge, and the program has grown tremendously over the years.
Northern Illinois Food Bank. The Cougars’ are currently partnering with the Northern Illinois Food Bank for Hunger Action Month in September. The NI Food Bank serves a 12-county region throughout Northern Illinois. Both organizations have combined to hold a virtual food drive this month.
Youth Baseball Clinics. Each season, Kane County Cougars players and coaches provide hands-on instruction to boys and girls in free baseball instructional clinics at the ballpark. Geared towards youth baseball and softball players between the ages of 6-15, participants are invited onto the field to receive pointers from the pros in skills including hitting, pitching, catching and fielding.
Coaches Clinic. This past February, the Cougars and Kansas City Royals hosted a coaches clinic. The clinic’s purpose is to specifically instruct coaches. Coaches are encouraged to bring video recorders and note pads for their convenience, and have the opportunity to visit each station to learn valuable pointers in specific areas of on-field execution, practice techniques and coaching style.