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McGuire hosts clinic to benefit Special Olympics

@baseballexis
January 23, 2020

ST. THOMAS, Ont. -- It was a no-brainer for Reese McGuire. When St. Thomas Sports Spectacular committee member Brent Lale asked the 24-year-old Blue Jays catcher if he would be willing to offer some of his time to help support the local Special Olympics chapter, as well as Community Living

ST. THOMAS, Ont. -- It was a no-brainer for Reese McGuire.

When St. Thomas Sports Spectacular committee member Brent Lale asked the 24-year-old Blue Jays catcher if he would be willing to offer some of his time to help support the local Special Olympics chapter, as well as Community Living Elgin, McGuire didn’t hesitate.

While attending Kentwood High School in Covington, Wash., the backstop had a front-row seat to watch his mother Robin make a difference as a special education teacher -- a job she has been doing for three decades -- and there was no way McGuire was going to pass up the opportunity to contribute in a community not far from his newfound second home in Toronto.

“In my junior and senior years I was able to do some peer tutoring for one of her classes,” McGuire said. “Just being around the kids hits home for me, because I got a perspective of what my mom does every single day, and just how fun and challenging it can be. You not only get to enjoy being around the kids, but you respect the people who are helping them grow and helping to educate them. As soon as I heard about this event, I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

The Sports Spectacular celebrated its 42nd year on Thursday night, but ahead of the main event, McGuire used the extra time he had following Toronto’s annual Winter Fest to help the cause in an even bigger way. On Wednesday, with the help of Lale, McGuire hosted 25 young players for a baseball clinic at The Power Alley, with all of the proceeds of the event benefiting the Special Olympians of St. Thomas.

As soon as the clinic came to a close, the Seattle native headed to a local gym to take in a Special Olympics basketball practice, where he joined in on the fun and games and made a countless number of new friends and memories.

“We were able to get one session in, which was really fun and had 25 kids, raised like a thousand bucks,” McGuire said. “It was cool. It was kind of in and out, but all the kids who came seemed to have a good time. It was great to meet them during the photos and autographs at the end, because a lot of them were shy throughout the day. Then right after that we went over to the gym to watch basketball practice, and I got in on some of the action a little bit because they wanted me to do that, so it was a lot of fun.”

While McGuire has always wanted to embrace each new community he’s found himself in throughout his professional career, the young catcher feels as though he can make a more significant impact now than he might have made earlier on.

“Everyone faces challenges in their lives and some are greater than others,” he said. “So just to be able to help out in any way, any aspect of helping anyone who needs it, or even just raising awareness for the cause is important. The big takeaway for me is realizing that we’re all fortunate, we’re all lucky in certain ways.

“Something I’ve always wanted to do is to visit children’s hospitals or help out with Special Olympians. I never felt like I had the right platform yet, even though you always seem to put a smile on the kids’ faces regardless of where you’re at and who you are, whether they know you or not. But that’s one exciting part for me as I break into the big leagues is feeling like I have a better opportunity to impact kids and adults around the country.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that along the way he’s making his mom proud, too.

“She was stoked,” McGuire said. “She’s the one who’s always pushed me to do certain things, and sometimes I felt uncomfortable going into children’s hospitals as a West Virginia Power player or a Bradenton Marauders player. I never really felt like they would think it was cool or they would enjoy seeing me, they’d rather meet stars who are on TV. But now that I’ve got this opportunity, it’s coming to life, and as I grow older, I become a little bit more outgoing, so I’m enjoying it.”

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.