Gloves For Kids event raises funds for youth baseball equipment
Luke Hudson and Ryan Shealy sign for some fans during this year's Gloves For Kids event. (Chris Vleisides/Royals)
For the first time in a long time, David DeJesus' hand hurt.
Don't worry, it's nothing serious. Just a minor "too-much-signing" injury that occurred after David and some of his teammates spent an evening meeting fans and raising money at the annual Gloves For Kids event on Monday, June 11.
Converting their off day from the field into a benefit for the community, Royals players John Buck, Jimmy Gobble, Alex Gordon, Luke Hudson, Tony Pena, Jr., Ryan Shealy and Mark Teahen joined DeJesus and Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre for the event at the Dick's Sporting Goods at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kan. The Royals crew signed in two separate one-hour sessions, shaking hands, posing for pictures, signing autographs and hearing stories from several Royals fans.
"I'm not sure I've ever signed this much," said a smiling DeJesus, still rubbing his hand. "There were so many fans coming through (the line)."
In the end, the small cramps in the hands were worth it for the guys, who helped raised $5,450 to purchase new baseball equipment for area youth baseball players who might not otherwise be able to afford equipment. That includes a portion of the purchased equipment being distributed to youth baseball programs in Greensburg, Kan., the community five hours southwest of Kansas City that was devastated by a tornado on May 4. This year's Gloves For Kids also received a $500 contribution from the Royals Alumni Association.
Fans who visited Dick's Sporting Goods to meet their favorite Royals players donated at least $20. With every $20 donation, they received a $5 gift certificate for Dick's Sporting Goods.
Lefebvre, who has been broadcasting Royals game from the radio booth since 1999, created Gloves For Kids as part of his Footprints Foundation. Since its inception, Gloves For Kids has raised more than $55,000 to provide new baseball gloves for Kansas City area youth. The cause is something Lefebvre, who was named the 2006 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City Role Model of the Year and is an active participant in the Kansas City area Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, takes very seriously.
"The event started when I was recalling my first significant baseball memory: going to a Major League Baseball game and receiving my first glove," Lefebvre recalls. "We all remember the first big league game we attended and we certainly remember that first beautiful piece of leather that instantly made us a baseball player. That's how Gloves For Kids came about and it has grown since."
Although the Royals are the first, they are not the only Major League franchise to participate in a Gloves For Kids event. In 2003, former Royals pitcher Jeff Suppan and Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Greg Brown combined to host the event at a Dick's Sporting Goods store in Pittsburgh. That event raised $10,000 for more than 400 kids in Pittsburgh's B.I.G. League Sports/RBI Program. In addition, the Minnesota Twins -- where Lefebvre got his Major League broadcasting start -- and the Detroit Tigers have also adopted the Gloves For Kids program, helping the program to nationally raise more than $70,000 and nearly 3,000 new gloves.