Starting pitcher Kyle Freeland regularly supports and volunteers his time attending events in our local community. When the Denver native arrived to play at the Major League level, the Rockies had a group of established players who had strong community and charity programs. Although many of those Major Leaguers are no longer with the club, Kyle said that they – especially five-time Rockies Roberto Clemente nominee Ian Desmond – influenced his perspective about the importance of giving back.
“’Des’ is the pinnacle of that – everywhere he played, he set a precedent about how to go about things in the community, and the work he is doing in his hometown of Sarasota is absolutely incredible,” Freeland said. “He pushed guys on the team – he helped pushed me – to get more involved, especially with me being from Denver. It’s great to see guys get involved with the Colorado community – and if not the Colorado community, their hometown community.”
Freeland has been involved with Special Olympics Colorado since his early years in pro-ball, beginning with his time with the Colorado Rockies Rookie League team, the Grand Junction Rockies. Kyle’s “host mom” in Grand Junction, Carmen Brown, was very active in the Special Olympics community, and she introduced Kyle to the organization and its athletes. Now, as back then, Kyle says it’s incredible to watch the athletes compete. "Seeing the joy on their faces when they make contact with the ball when they get a hit, when they get to run the bases, you just see their faces light up," he said. "It's a ton of fun to be a part of that and to know that you're helping with that joy."
Kyle’s dedication to Special Olympics really took hold in 2018 while on a road series against the Mariners in Seattle. Kyle spent his off-day at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle, visiting with Special Olympics Colorado athletes. He interacted with many of the athletes from the Colorado team, and he admired the passion and perseverance they displayed. Since then, he’s been trying to do anything he can to support the athletes of the organization.
Kyle has held fundraising raffles for some uniquely special items the past few seasons. At the end of this year, one winner will be drawn for his custom-designed (for Special Olympics Colorado) practice glove. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics Colorado.
For years, the Rockies Foundation has teamed up with Special Olympics Colorado to host Fantasy Camp Kids, specifically for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Kyle volunteers regularly throughout the baseball season in the Rockies-sponsored youth baseball clinics, and he really looks forward to the event with Special Olympics Colorado. Kyle and his wife, Ashley, have also been strong supporters of Special Olympics independently of the Rockies team efforts. Ashley had been involved with the organization for a number of years before they were married. Kyle and Ashley take every opportunity to support and advocate for Special Olympics Colorado, knowing it’s all about teamwork and cheering each other on and supporting teammates.
Kyle also said he loves being from Denver and giving back where he can. Being a “Denver kid” is a point of pride for him as is giving back to his hometown wherever possible. “Any other ways that I can help in the city, whether it’s schools or pets or whatever, I’d love to do it.”