FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
Tulsa, Okla. – The ORU baseball team has been focused on more than just baseball these days, and although the baseball season is right around the corner, Head Coach Rob Walton has his team working hard to serve the Tulsa community through various charity and outreach events.
In September the team volunteered for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure-a foundation that raises awareness and funds research for breast cancer-helping raise more than $900,000 for the cause.
“We just wanted to give back to the community, and give our guys this experience.” said Walton. “We wanted them to see how fortunate they are to be student-athletes, and to appreciate it.”
In October the team took time out of their fall break and began working with the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless. The center is the only daytime shelter in Tulsa, and helps shelter and feed an average of 400 people per day. While spending a day at the shelter, the ORU players were able to help improve the facility and spend some time with those in need and assisted with cleaning, renovations, organization, and processing of donated goods.
The baseball team spent more of their fall break with the kids from the West Mabee Boys and Girls Club of Tulsa. The Boys and Girls Club, run by former ORU student Jamar Giddings, is a home away from home for children of all ages. They offer fellowship, character development, educational and recreational opportunities for kids. The ORU players spend time helping children with homework, playing video games, and other activities.
“It’s great to see how we are able to get their hopes up and how we make their day by being there.” said senior pitcher Joe Spring.
The baseball team also has a growing relationship with the Tulsa Saint Francis Children’s Hospital. The baseball team spends four days a month at the Children’s Hospital, brightening the spirits of the children. The experience has had a big impact on the players.
“Visiting the children’s hospital has given us the opportunity to give back,” said senior all-American Cam Schiller, “Guys volunteer every week, and we just try to create a friendly peaceful environment for the kids by playing games and hanging out.”
The players go room to room visiting the children, playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and connecting with the patients. The relationship between the baseball program and St. Francis Children’s Hospital is a special one that is close to Coach Walton’s heart.
“I was told I had cancer when I was with the Baltimore Orioles, and I had surgery for cancer. I also lost close family to cancer.” said Walton. “I think it is important to give those kids hope, and for our guys to understand how important that is to those kids.”
Getting the players involved is all part of Walton’s coaching philosophy, and is an intricate part of what the Golden Eagles focus on as a team.
“I think it is very important for their development to learn to think about others.” said Walton. “A lot of times young athletes can get caught up in their own world and are not aware of what other people are going through-it is just good for them to give back.”
Sophomore All-American Alex Gonzalez says that the community outreach has also helped the Golden Eagles become closer as a team.
“A lot of times we are off doing our own thing and only see each other at practice,” said Gonzalez, “This gives us a chance to come together and benefit the whole community.”
And when the season begins the outreach won’t end. ORU Baseball will host two charitable events during home games this season.
On March 30, the Golden Eagles will host Louisiana Tech for the first Armed Forces Night at J.L. Johnson Stadium. The game will honor former ORU baseball player and Marine, Ryan Iannelli, who was killed in active duty September 2011. The game will involve many promotions that honor Iannelli, as well as other past and present military personnel. On April 17, ORU will play host to the University of Oklahoma for a game that will attempt to generate funds to help fight children’s cancer. The game will include fundraising opportunities and promotions for the fans.