Lending A Hand: Cougars 2013 Community Outreach

The Kane County Cougars organization strives to maintain their commitment to serving communities throughout Chicagoland, and the 2013 season of Cougars baseball included numerous examples of that philosophy.

Ozzie’s Reading Club. In its 19th season, the Cougars’ reading program included nearly 150,000 students from 500 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 2013-14 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. Sponsors this year were Presence Mercy Medical Center and Cantigny Park.

Ozzie’s Scholars. New in 2012-13, the Cougars awarded a total of twelve $1,000 scholarships to both current and former members of Ozzie’s Reading Club. Applicants were asked to describe how their involvement with Ozzie’s Reading Club served as a positive influence in their daily lives. Winners were invited to a July Cougars game and recognized in a pre-game ceremony on the field.

Ozzies Scholars

Home Run For Life. In conjunction with Presence Mercy Medical Center, the Cougars recognized one fan during select Cougars games who overcame a serious medical-related condition, and celebrated a Home Run for Life. The fan’s story was read aloud to all fans, and the individual made a victory home run lap around the bases and exchanged high-fives with Cougars players as well as the opposing team before touching home plate and receiving an autographed team bat from Ozzie T. Cougar.

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 2013 calendar year closes, the Cougars will have assisted hundreds of 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.

Scout Nights. The Cougars welcomed more than 1,500 scouts and their families to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for 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. The Cougars presented the Three Fires Council a check in the amount of $1,704 in conjunction with the council’s scout campout event held at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark during Memorial Day weekend.

Meet the Team Party: Cougars fans had the opportunity to meet the team following a game this season. Proceeds from the “Meet the Team” event benefited the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.

Monthly Charity Initiatives. Throughout the 2013 season, the Cougars raised money through the 50/50 raffle sponsored by Rush Copley. The Cougars donated a total of more than $12,000 from 50/50 proceeds, along with a charitable contribution from the Cougars organization, to five causes during the 2013 season through their monthly charity initiatives: Be The Match, Special Olympics Illinois, Tails Humane Society, Animal House Shelter, and Family Counseling Services.

Pitch In For Charity: The Cougars, along with Jersey Mike’s Subs, presented JDRF with a check for $6,135 at the end of the season. Proceeds were generated through the Pitch In For Charity tennis ball promotion in which fans purchased numbered tennis balls and attempted to land them on a pair of on-field targets following select Cougars games.

Ozzie’s Home Run and Walk 5K. The Cougars’ 5K charity run and walk, held on May 18, was a charitable event in which a portion of race proceeds benefitted the “Ozzie’s Scholars” reading scholarship program.

Ozzie 5K

“Salute to Ron Santo” Night. The Cougars hosted a “Salute to Ron Santo” Night on June 27 where the Cougars welcomed representatives from JDRF, an organization that held close ties to former major leaguer and Hall-of-Famer Ron Santo.

High School Sports Business Seminars. This spring, the Cougars welcomed more than 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.

Military Recognition. The Cougars, in conjunction with Fifth Third Bank, hosted a Military Appreciation Night on July 6. The event included a pre-game hospitality picnic for servicemen and women along with their families, a pre-game large American flag unfurling on the field and a presence by numerous military groups such as Heart of a Marine and Operation Support Our Troops. 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 regular season home game during the 2013 season. Active military and their families received complimentary admission at all games this past season.

Ozzie and Cougars In The Community. When the 2013 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, Hesed House and other local causes.

Pete Vonachen Memorial Fund. The Cougars donated $500 to the Pete Vonachen Scholarship Fund through Bradley University, and held a moment of silence before the June 11th game to remember a baseball visionary. Vonachen, the longtime owner of the Peoria Chiefs, passed away earlier this season on June 10th.

Make-A-Wish Foundation. In conjunction with the Addison Police and Fire Departments, the Cougars hosted a charity softball game and fundraiser on August 18, with proceeds in the amount of $1,470 being donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Coaches Clinic. This past February, the Cougars and Chicago Cubs hosted a coaches clinic at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Featuring professional instruction from coaches in the Cubs organization, the free clinic welcomed area youth coaches to learn valuable pointers in specific areas of on-field execution, practice techniques and coaching style.

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.

About Kane County Cougars

The Kane County Cougars are the Class-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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