Jen Hidinger the founder of The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit that provides peace of mind to workers in the Atlanta restaurant community who are facing unanticipated crises. Jen and her husband, Ryan were in the process of opening a restaurant, but their dream took a turn after Ryan was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Since her husband's passing, the Giving Kitchen has become a well-established part of the community that has given out over 700 grants to Atlanta restaurant workers in need, totaling over $1 million.
The Atlanta Braves players, FOX Sports South broadcasters, the Tomahawk Team, and Heavy Hitters marched down the Atlanta Beltline and surprised Jen at Ponce City Market during a fundraiser hosted by The Helpful Hotdog stand. Jen received the news she was a Community Heroes Week honoree by the Fox Sports South talent Brian Jordan and Chip Caray. Braves players Kurt Suzuki, Freddie Freeman and Jason Hursh, and Braves Alumni Greg McMichael presented Jen and the Giving Kitchen with a $5,000 donation from the Atlanta Braves Foundation. After the surprise, Braves players and FOX Sports South talent pitched in to serve hot dogs and King of Pops at Ponce City Market. Later that evening, Jen along with fifty of her employees, friends and family members arrived at SunTrust Park on the FOX Sports Fan Express bus. Jen attended batting practice, met the rest of the Braves team and was honored on field during the game.
Tanner Smith created "Tanner's Totes" at age 12, after his father was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Stage IV. Tanner spent countless days in the hospital with his father and noticed there were many children, especially teens and pre-teens, in the hospital for long-term treatment and he wanted to bring a smile to their faces during their stay. As a result, Tanner created Tanner's Totes and began filling and delivering large tote bags with toys and items to bring some greatly needed distractions and joy to those children. Tanner's Totes has grown tremendously over the past fifteen years through high school and his college basketball career at Clemson. Now at 27 years old, and currently an assistant basketball coach at UNC Charlotte, Tanner continues to provide his totes to children both nationally and internationally.
During a recent visit to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, Tanner spoke to a group of children in the Fun Zone about his organization. During his speech, Fox Sports South broadcaster Paul Byrd and Joe Simpson walked in to surprise Tanner and announce that he was being honored as a Community Heroes Week honoree. Atlanta Braves players R.A. Dickey, Matt Kemp, Jaime Garcia, Johan Camargo, Ender Inciarte, and Jason Hursh then entered and presented Tanner with a $5,000 donation from the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Following the surprise, the Braves players and broadcasters helped Tanner distribute tote bags then spent time with the children in the Zone doing arts and crafts, signing autographs and playing video games. That night, the FOX Sports Fan Express bus transported Tanner and his friends and family to SunTrust Park. Tanner attended batting practice, met the rest of the Braves team, received a personalized jersey from the players and was honored on field during the game.
Anna Patton is a dedicated parent and volunteer for the Buckhead Baseball Buddy Baseball program at Frankie Allen Park. Anna recruits special needs youth and adults and provides them with an opportunity to play baseball. She also recruits the buddies who are matched with special needs players to assist them with batting, fielding and base running. The Buddy Baseball program is open to children and young adults with autism, down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, cystic fibrosis, dwarfism and many other conditions that physically limits play.
On the final day of Community Heroes Week, Anna was in a board meeting to discuss the Buddy Baseball program's partnership with the Atlanta Braves. As the meeting wrapped, Anna was greeted by the Heavy Hitters and Tomahawk Team who led her to Homeplate where much to her surprise, the Braves players and more than hundred Buckhead Baseball players and families were waiting for her. Fox Sports South talent Kelsey Wingert and Nick Green announced to Anna and the crowd that she was a Community Heroes Honoree. Braves players Dansby Swanson, Matt Adams, Sean Newcomb, Jason Motte, Jose Ramirez, Arodys Vizcaino, Luke Jackson, Braves Coaches Brian Snitker and Marty Reed presented a $5,000 donation from the Atlanta Braves Foundation to the Buddy Baseball program. Following the formalities, the Buddy Baseball players were paired up with the Braves players and coaches to play a quick game of baseball. The players and coaches helped the kids bat, run the bases, catch and throw.
Later that evening, Anna, her family and many of the Buddy Baseball players and their families came to SunTrust Park on the FOX Sports Fan Express bus for a VIP Experience. They attended batting practice, met other Braves players and Anna was honored on the field during the game.
Tim and Becky founded Bearings Bike Shop after noticing a girl in their neighborhood was not able to ride bikes with her friends because she needed new tires. They invited the young girl to earn the tires by doing chores and community service projects in their Adair Park neighborhood. She not only worked for new tires, but a whole new bike!
The O'Maras began mentoring neighborhood kids and opened three shops across two of the most underserved zip codes in Atlanta. At Bearings Bike Shop, kids earn bikes by picking up trash and keeping their neighborhood clean. A model was established by the O'Mara's: Give a Kid a bike, and he will simply ride it wherever he goes, but let the kid earn the bike, and you make the kid a part of the community. As the children work to earn bikes they are mentored by coaches where they learn skills to repair their bikes as well as character strengths that produce successful, well-adjusted adults.
While an unsuspecting Tim and Becky hosted a workshop at Bearings Bike Shop one morning, Fox Sports South broadcasters Jerome Jurenovich, Jeff Francoeur, and Chip Caray entered carrying balloons and announced that the O'Mara's were being recognized as Community Heroes Week honorees. Atlanta Braves players Nick Markakis and Danny Santana, along with Braves coaches Ron Washington and Chuck Hernandez presented a $5,000 donation from the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Additionally, Braves photography partner, BEAM Imagination, presented a matching check for $5,000 to the organization. BEAM is located in Adair Park just down the street from Bearings Bike Shop and they were so touched by the O'Mara's story, that they decided to join in the fun and philanthropy! Following the special presentation, the players, coaches and broadcasters provided each child with bike helmets, flashing bike lights and bright colored handlebar grips before spending the morning assembling bikes with the youth. Later that evening, Tim and Becky along with fifty of their friends, family members and neighborhood children arrived at SunTrust Park in VIP style on the FOX Sports Fan Express bus. Tim and Becky attend batting practice, met other members of the team and were honored on field during the game.
Piper Hill, a retired Army captain who served in Iraq, was medically discharged due to a debleating neurological illness. Captain Hill was partnered with a service dog to aid in her recovery and over time began to regain skills lost due to her condition. Living with PTSD, she noticed how her quality of life significantly improved with the assistance of her service dog. This change in her personal life led her to establish Healing4Heroes in 2010 so that she could help other military veterans.
Healing4Heroes serves the community by helping military veterans but also rescues dogs from high kill and overcrowded animal shelters. These dogs are trained to become service companions for veterans in an effort to improve their quality of life.
Captain Hill arrived at SunTrust Park believing she was going to film an interview about her organization. FOX Sports South talent, Kelsey Wingert, conducted the interview in the Chophouse. During the interview Captain Hill's family from Louisiana, friends and veterans who have received dogs through Healing4Heroes walked onto the set to surprise her. Kelsey then shared the news that she was actually being honored as a Community Heroes Week honoree.
Braves players Sam Freeman, Ian Krol, Luke Jackson, Mike Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz, and Lane Adams, and Chairmen Terry McGuirk presented a $5,000 donation from the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Braves front office staff was there to congratulate her as well. Afterwards, the Braves players spent time with Captain Hill, her family and the veterans and their companions, had lunch with the group and signed autographs. Captain Hill, her family and all the veterans and their companions were special guests at the Braves game that night. Captain Hill attended batting practice and was honored on the field during the game.