ST. LOUIS -- In an offseason already highlighted by his November wedding, Jon Jay has been busy planning another big event, one that offers him a chance to assist a local organization whose impact hits close to home -- both literally and figuratively -- for the Cardinals outfielder.
For the third straight year, Jay will host the Jon Jay FMSbonds Celebrity Bowling Challenge at Lucky Strike in Miami Beach, Fla. The event, which sold out its space each of the last two years and has raised over $50,000 for charity, will again benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade. The charity beneficiary was not chosen by chance, either.
After donating the proceeds of his first bowling event to the Chapman Partnership, a Miami-area group that helps the homeless, Jay decided to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs. He had long hoped to give back to this organization specifically, as it was a resource he directly benefited from as a child growing up in South Florida.
"I always knew I wanted to do something in Miami to help out," Jay said. "I grew up in the Boys & Girls Club in Miami, so it became a perfect fit. I used to walk there."
In order to help stir interest in the event, Jay has elicited the participation of other Miami athletes and celebrities and Cardinals teammates to participate in the bowling night. Previous attendees include baseball players Daniel Descalso, David Freese, Allen Craig, Lance Lynn, Mike Lowell, Gio Gonzalez, Tyler Greene, John Mayberry, Blake Tekotte, Luis Exposito and Chris Marrero. The Miami Heat's Chris Bosh has stopped by, as well as actor Bryan Greenberg and celebrity chef Richard Ingram.
Among those expected to attend this year's event -- which will be held Jan. 24 from 7-10 p.m. ET -- are Orioles infielder Manny Machado, Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso and NFL player Jimmy Graham.
"It's been incredible, the turnout and how the community has received this," Jay said. "It's heading in the right direction of where we want to go. We're at the point now where we're at our third year, and we have a vision of really extending this and taking it to the next level."
A portion of the money donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade will be allocated to the organization's baseball program, of which Jay was a member. It will also help a mentorship program that Jay and his father established through the Boys & Girls Clubs to assist boys ages 6-20 with overcoming obstacles associated with growing up in the inner city.
Jay remains active with this program while in Miami during the offseason. His father makes several weekly visits to work with these boys each week of the year.
"It's hard growing up in the inner city, but we want them to know something can come of it," Jay said. "Through the inner-city program, we traffic a lot of kids to play baseball from the inner cities. It's growing. We envision the program growing and reaching out to other parts of the inner city to help more people. We want to show them that working hard and having a good attitude can take you far."
Jay used the recognition gained from being a part of the Cardinals' 2011 World Series championship club to get his dream of hosting a bowling event off the ground, and support from key sponsors FMSbonds and Emerson Electric Company have helped grow the event. Jay had a connection to both companies through family friends.
For more information on the event and/or to secure a spot to bowl in the Jon Jay Celebrity Bowling Challenge, visit jonjaychallenge.com. Bowling spots can be reserved as individuals or teams. For those not able to participate in the event, there is an opportunity to make a donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade through the website as well.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.