Braun, Yeli, Crew team up to help Milwaukee, LA

Two SoCal guys doing their part

April 13th, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun, Christian Yelich and Mike Attanasio are doing their part to help both their mutual hometown and their adopted hometown respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the effort is growing. 

The trio of Brewers -- Attanasio is the son of principal owner Mark Attanasio -- are directing efforts in Los Angeles and Milwaukee to aid healthcare professionals and hourly workers affected by the crisis. In L.A., they are marshaling the resources of the California Strong organization they founded two years ago, and in Milwaukee, they are contributing their own money and rallying funds from teammates on a couple of fronts.

“The goal when we started this thing was to help people in need,” Braun said. “I don’t think we could have anticipated anything like this.”

The latest initiative was finalized Monday, when the Brewers announced that Braun was leading a group that includes Bob Uecker, Yelich and teammates Lorenzo Cain, Corey Knebel, Josh Lindblom and Brent Suter to add $300,000 to the team’s $1 million fund for Miller Park game day workers who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Braun was the first to commit, giving $100,000. Uecker contributed $50,000, the team said.

Here are some other efforts in the works:

• California Strong, founded by Braun, Yelich, Attanasio, former Brewers infielder Mike Moustakas and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff in response to the wildfires and a mass shooting in California in late 2018, has donated 100,000 meals to Feeding America, one of the organizations (with Meals on Wheels America) that split a $1 million contribution from Major League Baseball last month. The organization said it planned to send those funds to local member food banks in high need areas across the United States to help feed children and families affected by school closures and other disruptions.

• In conjunction with the 3rd Street Market Hall being developed in downtown Milwaukee, Braun and Yelich helped fund meals for hospital workers in southeastern Wisconsin, starting at Froedtert Hospital on Easter Sunday, and following with Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin and Aurora Health Care, the official healthcare partner of the Brewers. Meals will be prepared and delivered to medical workers by the hall’s various vendors, said founding partner Omar Shaikh, and the players’ financial contributions are being matched by the developers of The Avenue in what used to be Milwaukee’s Grand Avenue Mall.

“These are all small restaurants facing their own struggles, but when I reached out requesting their help for this project, they all enthusiastically signed up, with no hesitation,” said Shaikh.

“We’re all in this fight together and will get through it together,” Yelich said.

Braun, Yelich and Attanasio have at least two other significant projects in the works: an effort to purchase personal protective equipment for several hospitals in California, and a plan to help the stadium workers in Wisconsin who lost jobs due to baseball’s temporary shutdown.

The Brewers and MLB’s other 29 clubs had already pledged at least $1 million each to support stadium workers. The players are planning to supplement that pool of funds in Milwaukee, by the contributions from Braun, Uecker and the others.

“We know this doesn’t solve the problem, but along with the contribution from the Brewers and the Attanasio family, we believe this fund can help support those who are most in need,” Braun said.
Said Uecker: “This is more than supporting those who work at Miller Park. In my 50 years with the team, I have become friends with many of these individuals, and some of them have been around the ballpark nearly as long as me. We’re all limited in what we can do to return to our normal lives, but we want to help people be as comfortable as possible until we can get back to starting up.”

As additional needs arise, the group hopes to be in position to respond accordingly. So far, California Strong has raised and distributed more than $3 million to those in need.

“It’s really difficult to ask people right now for donations, but we can at least make them aware of what we’re doing and where the help is needed,” Attanasio said.

They expect that more help will be required before life returns to normal.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations and group texts and emails to figure out how we could help the most people and have the greatest impact,” Braun said. “We recognize the magnitude of the situation, that so many people need help, and the fact that they are going to need help for a long time.”