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Week of fun a HO-HO-Home Run by D-backs

MLB.com

The D-backs got into the holiday spirit with a special week full of "fun-tastic" events that had an impact throughout the Phoenix community and put a smile on the faces of kids and adults alike.

The biggest of them all was Friday's 21st annual Winter Classic, presented by University of Phoenix. The Winter Classic gathered 515 kids from all over Phoenix at Chase Field for an unforgettable day of giving and receiving the kind of love that only young D-backs fans can provide.

The D-backs got into the holiday spirit with a special week full of "fun-tastic" events that had an impact throughout the Phoenix community and put a smile on the faces of kids and adults alike.

The biggest of them all was Friday's 21st annual Winter Classic, presented by University of Phoenix. The Winter Classic gathered 515 kids from all over Phoenix at Chase Field for an unforgettable day of giving and receiving the kind of love that only young D-backs fans can provide.

"It's one of the events everybody likes to be at because of that interaction with the kids," said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. "We are glad to be able to impact their lives in a positive way around the holiday season, getting their minds off things that may be putting pressure on their lives as well as being able to provide them with things that they may not be able to afford such as a pair of shoes, socks or a backpack."

Hall was joined by his Special Assistants J.J. Putz, Willie Bloomquist and Randy Johnson. The Hall of Fame southpaw was especially moved by how the shoe giveaway he started when he first arrived in Arizona as a flamethrower on the mound still keeps going strong two decades later.

"It gets bigger and bigger every year," said Johnson, the franchise's all-time leader in wins and a member of the D-backs' 20th Anniversary Team. "When I started, it was just a little area. Now it's all over the ballpark. It carried on even after I retired. It's a very successful event during a wonderful time of the year."

The ballpark became a giant playground as kids of all ages practiced their fastballs as well as arts and crafts, visited the Phoenix Symphony Instrument "Petting Zoo," danced alongside organist Bobby Freeman and team mascot D. Baxter and took pictures with Santa.

They also met some of the current D-backs such as starting pitcher Robbie Ray and manager Torey Lovullo. Both of them were thankful to be a part of their second Winter Classic as they joined Johnson, first base coach Dave McKay and D-backs broadcasters Mike Ferrin and Steve Berthiaume, among others, at different stations throughout the day.

"It's a special time to pass out some shoes and help underprivileged children," said Ray. "There is no better feeling than seeing the smile on their faces. It's all about seeing them enjoying themselves."

For Lovullo, it was also about reinforcing a bond with the fan base that lasts 365 days a year.

"It's a great time to give back," said Lovullo, who is about to start his third season at the helm in Arizona. "What makes it truly special is seeing the kids having the time of their lives in the spirit of the holidays. We are happy to be a part of today, but that doesn't mean it is just about this specific (event). We want to be connected with the entire community, especially our young fans, all year long because they mean so much to us."

As exciting as the Winter Classic was, the festivities actually kicked off on Saturday, December 8, when D-backs legend and 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez served as Grand Marshal of the 6th annual Hometown Christmas Parade in Glendale, Ariz. The parade supported Operation Santa Claus and focused on collecting non-perishable food items for Hope for Hunger, a Glendale-based food bank.

According to the parade's official website, an estimated 12,000 bystanders witnessed 2,400 people march alongside Gonzalez and Baxter, who inevitably stole the show as a crowd favorite.

The giving mood continued to be in full bloom on Monday as Baxter and Gonzo, Putz and Bloomquist and other team employees to chaperone 14 Homeward Bound teens between the ages of 14 and 18 on a Christmas shopping spree at a local Target store to buy gifts for their loved ones.

Homeward Bound is a non-profit organization based in Arizona that "creates pathways out of poverty for homeless families ready to make a change" and joined forces with the D-backs to make a difference.

"When you get to meet a kid like Anthony, who's got a heart of gold," Putz told FOX 10 Phoenix, "he could have bought everything for himself, but chose to buy things for his family, his girlfriend of course… smart man. I got to spend time with him and talk to him. This is definitely a day we look forward to every year."

Things kicked up a notch on Wednesday as 150 kids had a special night with Baxter, Freeman, the Rallybacks and, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus during the 8th annual D-backs Holiday Party at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix.

"This week is one of our favorite weeks of the year," said D-backs Vice President of Corporate and Community Impact Debbie Castaldo. "D-backs employees are out doing events all this week and next week. We take care of very special kids that deserve to have a merry Christmas."

The party was a hit with arts and crafts, interactive baseball activities inside the gym and free pizza courtesy of Streets of New York, but the main event for the kids was being able to sit on Santa's lap and tell him the gift they wanted before heading into his workshop to select one toy to take home.

"It means everything and it makes all the yearlong work worth it," said Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix CEO Marcia Mintz. "The minute it ends, the kids are looking forward to next year. Some kids started attending this party when they were in kindergarten, and now they are teenagers."

Mintz attended the holiday party for the third year in a row and was thrilled to see Baxter, her favorite mascot in all sports. He stole the show once again.       

"We probably wouldn't even be here without the D-backs' commitment and reinvestment to give the kids in the area a place to go," she added. "The D-backs are always generous financially, but the resources and volunteers that they bring make all the difference."

All in all, the festivities were a true home run that put a bow on a memorable holiday week for everyone involved. 2019 will have even more in store.

"When we get back after the New Year, we pick up right where we left off with events that raise money and impact the community positively like Race for the Cure right before Opening Day and Evening on the Diamond," said Hall.  

Martin Bater is a contributor to MLB.com.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs' shave-off helps raise funds, awareness

Hall, Gonzo lose beards for cause, which benefits University of Arizona Cancer Center
Arizona Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- "Let your humankindness grow."

That was the motto driving the fourth annual shave-off Friday morning for the D-backs and St. Joseph's Hospital, in partnership with the University of Arizona Cancer Center. The event took place at the UA Cancer Center at St. Joseph's in downtown Phoenix, and featured D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall and 2001 World Series champion Luis Gonzalez among those in attendance who shaved the beards they had grown since Nov. 1 to raise awareness for men's cancer prevention and screening.

PHOENIX -- "Let your humankindness grow."

That was the motto driving the fourth annual shave-off Friday morning for the D-backs and St. Joseph's Hospital, in partnership with the University of Arizona Cancer Center. The event took place at the UA Cancer Center at St. Joseph's in downtown Phoenix, and featured D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall and 2001 World Series champion Luis Gonzalez among those in attendance who shaved the beards they had grown since Nov. 1 to raise awareness for men's cancer prevention and screening.

"This is a very important event with a very important message," said Hall, a prostate cancer survivor. "What we are doing is sending that message throughout the entire month for men to realize the importance of seeing their doctors. Early detection is the key to treatment.

"It is a year-round cause; the month of November is just a reminder. People say to wait until you are 40 or 50 [to get checked], but I say do it at any age. Stay on top of it and take control."

The event that started as a fundraiser is now a success that makes annual strides. This year, the D-backs' $50,000 donation to the UACC -- which receives all the proceeds -- allowed the center to acquire an MRI machine that allows its radiologists to distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous prostate tissue, preventing unnecessary biopsies.

"We are so grateful to Dignity [Health], St. Joseph's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Arizona Cancer Center as well. Hopefully we are saving lives," said Hall, who noted his beard allowed him to raise awareness about the issue whenever people asked him about why he was growing it.

Gonzalez also raved about being able to be participate in the experience.

"It's a lot of fun to be a part of this," the D-backs' legend said. "It gets bigger and better every year."

D-backs support vets with annual golf tourney

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks kicked off Veterans Day weekend in style on Friday as they hosted the eighth annual D-backs Celebrity Golf Classic, presented by Sanderson Ford, to raise money for veterans and active military personnel. The tournament featured an assortment of current and former players, including Miguel Montero, Jay Bell, Augie Ojeda, Russ Ortiz and Omar Daal, coaches Mike Butcher, Dave McKay and Tony Perezchica as well as D-backs executives and broadcasters.

"This event is the one that brings the most current and former players together," said D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall at the Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz. "I think that any time you are doing something that benefits veterans and active military members, it inspires everyone to be a part of it.

The Arizona Diamondbacks kicked off Veterans Day weekend in style on Friday as they hosted the eighth annual D-backs Celebrity Golf Classic, presented by Sanderson Ford, to raise money for veterans and active military personnel. The tournament featured an assortment of current and former players, including Miguel Montero, Jay Bell, Augie Ojeda, Russ Ortiz and Omar Daal, coaches Mike Butcher, Dave McKay and Tony Perezchica as well as D-backs executives and broadcasters.

"This event is the one that brings the most current and former players together," said D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall at the Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz. "I think that any time you are doing something that benefits veterans and active military members, it inspires everyone to be a part of it.

"I like to see everybody come together both before and after the tournament. The celebration, the reunions, the after-party. ... This is a very successful tournament that keeps getting bigger, and it has been an extremely rewarding experience to see the money we raise for those families who have made sacrifices for our freedom."

Tweet from @Dbacks: Today is the 8th annual #Dbacks Celebrity Golf Classic. Held each year on Veterans Day Weekend, it raises funds to improve the lives of our military heroes. #DbacksGiveBack pic.twitter.com/XuikfkLSex

The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation has donated more than $865,000 to local military organizations since 2011. This year, $230,000 was raised to benefit military charities, bringing that figure to over $1 million in less than a decade.

"It's a part of the $6 million-7 million we give back each year. It´s a great way to get things going, directly impacting servicemen and women," said Hall.

D-backs legend Luis Gonzalez also raved about the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation's overall charitable efforts benefiting the local community

"This event is awesome," Gonzalez said. "Veterans Day is around the corner, and this is a great opportunity for us to raise money for them as well as honor them. This is what it's all about when the D-backs give back to the community."

Folds of Honor and Gold Star Wife Ashley Thornton Schafer gave the opening remarks with a moving speech before being presented a check for $25,000 to Folds of Honor and Military Assistance Mission. 

Also among the honored was late Arizona Senator John McCain. The Vietnam War veteran and fervent D-backs fan was represented and remembered at the tournament by his son, Andy.

"It did make it more special," said Gonzalez. "I actually played in the same foursome as his son. I had the opportunity to be a pallbearer at [his father's] funeral. He was a great man and a huge part of history for the United States. For him to be from Arizona is truly an honor. It meant a lot to all of us."

Tweet from @Dbacks: Play golf! pic.twitter.com/VwQ9pJNO1y

The fundraising efforts would not have been as fruitful without the help of sponsors like Sanderson Ford, an ally of the D-backs in the efforts to recognize veterans.

"It's a fantastic opportunity to give back to the veterans," said Tom Collins, Sanderson Ford's general sales manager. "I'm just so proud to be associated with it."

After the ceremonies, it was time to play, and everyone from casual golfers like D-backs reliever Brad Boxberger to avid ones with "championship aspirations" like starting pitcher Taijuan Walker had a blast after the shotgun start that separated everyone into foursomes.

"I have family and friends who are in the troops, so it's always good to lend a helping hand," said Walker, who attended the event for the first time.

All for one, and fun for all

The Budweiser Prize Vault included bicycles, golf travel bags, high-end coolers and custom engraved and autographed memorabilia. Individual contests, such as the Men's Long Drive competition, included a personalized D-backs jersey as well as tickets to a game of choice in 2019.

The true prizes, however, were bragging rights, and that is where former D-backs pitchers J.J. Putz and Joe Saunders stole the show.

"The D-backs set up a great golf event for Veterans Day weekend, and I'm having a blast," said Putz, who is a special assistant to Hall and ranked second all-time in D-backs saves with 83 between 2010-14. "The military means so much. These guys fight for the freedoms we are given every single day. I never take that for granted."

Putz complimented his former teammate in a unique way.

"I'm probably the best former player/golfer in this tournament besides Joe Saunders. I don't know how he does it, the guy has extremely sweaty hands [laughs]. I would put my money on Joe all day, though."

Saunders didn't stay behind and fired back.

"J.J. can hit it a long way, but almost never straight," joked Saunders, who alongside Putz was a part of the 2011 National League West-champion club. "If he manages to make it go straight, watch out, but if you are looking for consistency, then I'm your guy. We are going to bet on who has the least amount of putts.

"It's awesome to be out here catching up with former teammates, meeting new teammates and helping out a great cause. I wouldn't miss it for the world."

The after-party put a bow on an amazing afternoon under the sun, and like Hall said, this event helped shift the team's focus forward as well.

"This is an opportunity to turn the page and start focusing on 2019. Then we have our MVP Awards, and before you know it, we are at Spring Training," Hall said.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Souza, D-backs take part in PLAY event

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- For D-backs outfielder Steven Souza Jr., the time he spent working with a group of kids as part of the National PLAY campaign, which promotes the importance of children living a healthy lifestyle and disability inclusion, was an experience he won't forget.

The program was created in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to raise awareness about children's health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States.

PHOENIX -- For D-backs outfielder Steven Souza Jr., the time he spent working with a group of kids as part of the National PLAY campaign, which promotes the importance of children living a healthy lifestyle and disability inclusion, was an experience he won't forget.

The program was created in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to raise awareness about children's health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Children from the National Down Syndrome Society took part in the PLAY event Wednesday with the support of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in society.

The D-backs' training staff, including head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw, assistant athletic trainer Ryan DiPanfilo and strength and conditioning coach Nate Shaw, also participated in Wednesday's event.

"I went around and asked them where they were from and it was amazing how many different countries were represented," Souza said. "It was so cool to be able to be around them. They were so excited that it made my day."

Shaw put the kids through some agility drills and showed them different exercises.

"It was a pretty cool thing," Shaw said. "These kids were really into it. They just loved being out on the grass running around. To see the big smiles on their faces made it worthwhile for me. It was special."

PLAY, which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, has conducted more than 300 events inside all 30 Major League ballparks reaching tens of thousands of America's young people with their message.

"I just talked to them about making some healthy choices in life and making sure they got away from the video games and got outside when they could," Souza said. "Seeing them today was energizing and reminded me why I love what I get to do every day."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Steven Souza Jr.

Ahmed aiming to improve water in Dominican

D-backs infielder, wife partner to bring valuable necessities to day-laborer community
Arizona Diamondbacks

The daily trek on foot by the women and children of El Mogote, Dominican Republic, takes 5 to 6 hours. Carrying pails as they navigate snaking dirt roads to the nearest water source, members of the 800-person day-laborer community fill those containers and head home in a cyclic mission built out of necessity but negated by the known contaminants in the very liquid intended to bring life to their shared agricultural village.

Located roughly 60 kilometers northwest of the D-backs' Baseball Academy in Boca Chica -- where the big league ballclub provides its prospects with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma regardless of how far they advance with their baseball careers -- the D-backs are making yet another impact for the better in the Dominican thanks to infielder Nick Ahmed, his wife Amanda and the Ahmed Family Double Play Fund's bid to benefit hunger and provide basic living necessities for the impoverished in the United States and Dominican Republic -- including the 230 families in El Mogote.

The daily trek on foot by the women and children of El Mogote, Dominican Republic, takes 5 to 6 hours. Carrying pails as they navigate snaking dirt roads to the nearest water source, members of the 800-person day-laborer community fill those containers and head home in a cyclic mission built out of necessity but negated by the known contaminants in the very liquid intended to bring life to their shared agricultural village.

Located roughly 60 kilometers northwest of the D-backs' Baseball Academy in Boca Chica -- where the big league ballclub provides its prospects with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma regardless of how far they advance with their baseball careers -- the D-backs are making yet another impact for the better in the Dominican thanks to infielder Nick Ahmed, his wife Amanda and the Ahmed Family Double Play Fund's bid to benefit hunger and provide basic living necessities for the impoverished in the United States and Dominican Republic -- including the 230 families in El Mogote.

Partnering with Striking Out Poverty, an initiative of the Phoenix-based international non-profit Food for the Hungry, the Ahmeds look to raise awareness and funds for a dual project in the Monte Plata province's community. Their aim is to make water more readily accessible and improve its quality -- something most people in the world can easily take for granted with a simple spin of a faucet.

"The people in El Mogote don't have running water in the community," the Arizona infielder said, "so the first project is creating a water infrastructure to bring the water closer to the residents' homes so they don't have to spend hours and hours each day fetching water that's not even drinkable. The second project is a water filtration system. So we'll have a spot centrally located in the community where they can all go and get clean drinking water, which will eliminate the kind of waterborne diseases that these people are unfortunately encountering."

The number of MLB players looking to make a personal difference through Food for the Hungry's Striking Out Poverty initiative is on the rise. Former D-backs pitcher Chase Anderson, who initially helped tune Ahmed into the international non-profit, joined the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright and the Athletics' Liam Hendriks to raise funds based on the number of strikeouts they throw this season. Mariners outfielder Dee Gordon is pledging for every one of his stolen bases, while Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco has a campaign related to his hit tallies -- just like Ahmed for the 2018 season.

"Their campaign entices baseball players like myself to raise money for communities in the Dominican to specifically help out with different projects that they're doing," said Ahmed, who set career highs in hits, runs, doubles, home runs and RBIs in 2018. "The D-backs obviously have a connection to that country, and I've had so many teammates from that country here, it just made sense to help out. It's about improving their quality of life and getting them out of that cycle of poverty.

"Striking Out Poverty has identified a bunch of different communities that were in need through the connections they have down there. So we felt clean, running water was the No. 1 basic necessity to start. And after that, hopefully we can adopt that community next year and build some sort of agricultural system for them to improve their quality of food and have an opportunity to bring in some money for their families."

Added Milam Byers, Director of Sports Partnerships at Food for the Hungry, "Nick and his wife Amanda joined the Food for the Hungry family last year and have truly jumped in with both feet. They are both passionate about changing lives in the Dominican Republic, and about teaming up with Diamondbacks fans to make it happen. We are continually thankful for their commitment to Striking Out Poverty, and we can't wait to see the life-changing difference that this campaign will bring to some of the hardest places in the Dominican Republic."

Planning a first trip to the Dominican this upcoming offseason through Food for the Hungry, the Ahmeds' Double Play Fund's roots began a year ago in July, after the birth of their son, Jackson. Also wanting to be proactive while weathering two stints on the disabled list last year, the infielder set up a pledge program dependent upon D-backs win tallies. With the team's success on the field en route to its first postseason appearance since 2011, the Ahmeds were able to build a worthy campaign in limited time during the second half of the season. This year, pledges center around Ahmed's hits.

"Baseball is Nick's passion," said Amanda Ahmed, "but for him to want to help others, mentor and just be able to give back … God's given us an amazing opportunity for him to play the game professionally, but we want to be able to do more than just play. That's where giving back comes in. It's been awesome watching him grow both on and off the field."

"Having kids puts things in perspective," Nick Ahmed said. "Everyone in the world doesn't necessarily have the same blessings and opportunities we do, so just looking at our son and thinking about not being able to give him clean water to drink, or him getting diseases or not having enough food to give him to eat so he can grow and develop really hurt us. Our son is amazing, and knowing that there's people in the world that work extremely hard and for whatever reason -- whether it's bad luck or some kind of injury or the area of the world they're born into -- it made our hearts pretty heavy for the people going through something like that."

At this year's Evening on the Diamond -- the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation's signature fundraiser to start the season -- more than $750,000 was raised to help build food pantries in the most at-risk Arizona schools as part of the launch of the Pitch In to End Hunger program, in conjunction with St. Mary's Food Bank, to alleviate food insecurity for thousands of Arizona families.

For the Ahmeds, what started out as helping the local Kitchen on the Street provide food to needy Valley residents blossomed into a partnership along with the D-backs, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and St. Mary's to unveil the first Pitch In to End Hunger food pantry at William Jack Elementary in Glendale earlier this season.

"We basically adopted a school with underprivileged kids and their families that don't have enough food, and built them a food pantry at the school so the kids can go in and grab food they need for themselves and their families at home," said Ahmed, about the storeroom that houses 10,000 tons of canned food and nonperishable items. "It's a huge program that's going to do amazing things. The D-backs are as passionate as we are about it, and we are to going to help out in any way we can."

With 3,000 miles separating El Mogote from the Ahmeds' home in Nick's hometown of East Longmeadow, Mass., the infielder credits his parents and his faith as catalysts for his philanthropic efforts, regardless of where and who those funds will ultimately benefit.

"When Amanda and I had decided that food and hunger was one of our causes that we really wanted to get involved with, we understood we had a real opportunity to help others with our fund as well as with the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and Food for the Hungry," he said. "These are phenomenal organizations that do great work, and we're just happy to be able to support them domestically or internationally. We hope this all just continues to bud and grow."

Josh Greene is the director of publications for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Nick Ahmed

Helping veterans a special cause for Miller

D-backs pitcher honored to support, meet with military members
Special to MLB.com

When it comes to supporting a cause, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller certainly holds veterans and active-duty military members near and dear to his heart. That's because his grandfather Chuck Pruett, whom he describes more like a father figure, was more than just an Army Blue Spader (26th Infantry Regiment). Pruett never missed one of Miller's baseball or football games and is the primary reason for the right-hander's countless veteran initiatives with the D-backs.

Miller's ongoing project is the Heroes F1rst ticket program, which provides four D-backs tickets to an active-duty military member for each home game this season.

When it comes to supporting a cause, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller certainly holds veterans and active-duty military members near and dear to his heart. That's because his grandfather Chuck Pruett, whom he describes more like a father figure, was more than just an Army Blue Spader (26th Infantry Regiment). Pruett never missed one of Miller's baseball or football games and is the primary reason for the right-hander's countless veteran initiatives with the D-backs.

Miller's ongoing project is the Heroes F1rst ticket program, which provides four D-backs tickets to an active-duty military member for each home game this season.

"I've met a couple of the families, and I get a lot of tweets from people who get to come to the games," Miller said. "I remember meeting one family where the son just got back from Afghanistan, and you could tell they were really excited to be here. It was so satisfying to see just how happy they were."

One particularly special experience a few months ago is permanently etched into the pitcher's mind. On July 4, he caught the ceremonial first pitch from a Navy SEAL and was gifted a meaningful token in return.

"They carry around these badges of what rank and division they were in, and he gave one to me," Miller said. "It was pretty cool he gave that to me. It meant a lot."

In addition to his ongoing home-game efforts, the right-hander visited MANA (Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force) House in Phoenix earlier this season, a facility founded in 2008 by 14 homeless veterans to offer individualized basic resources, community and advocacy for military members. This year alone, 199 veterans have been housed there, while more than 500 residents have graduated from the facility over the past eight years.

"It is a pretty special place; a place of veterans helping other veterans," Miller said. "All of them have different stories and different backgrounds. My grandfather and great-grandfather having been soldiers is the reason why I've wanted to take my efforts for the community there, and it was a great experience visiting."

MANA House received the Ken Kendrick Grand Slam Award through the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation in 2017 for a $100,000 grant that would later fund a commercial kitchen in the newfound home to many veterans. The recent $3.1 million renovation for the facility, which provides food to homeless veterans and the resources for job training in food services, is the result of the promising award.

"My papa, my grandad influenced the way I went about my life," said Miller, who plans on continuing his support of veterans going forward. "He was somebody I talked to a lot, relied on a lot, and helped me with everyday and life decisions."

Kennedy Jorgensen is a contributor to MLB.com

Arizona Diamondbacks, Shelby Miller

D-backs' Hispanic Heritage Day another success

dbacks.com

The D-backs teamed up with Mexico's Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (Mexican Pacific League) on Saturday afternoon to treat their fans to a "fiesta" during the third annual Hispanic Heritage Day at Chase Field.

Randy Johnson Way was not only flooded with D-backs gear, but also with jerseys from teams such as the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Águilas de Mexicali and Charros de Jalisco. Thousands of fans visited the stands from each of the LMP's eight teams and partied to live music, with games for fans of all ages.

The D-backs teamed up with Mexico's Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (Mexican Pacific League) on Saturday afternoon to treat their fans to a "fiesta" during the third annual Hispanic Heritage Day at Chase Field.

Randy Johnson Way was not only flooded with D-backs gear, but also with jerseys from teams such as the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Águilas de Mexicali and Charros de Jalisco. Thousands of fans visited the stands from each of the LMP's eight teams and partied to live music, with games for fans of all ages.

"This is one of the most exciting and festive days of the year," D-backs senior vice president Josh Rawitch said. "We strive to bring the flavor from all these home countries to Chase Field with the food, the music, the dancers and the entire environment we are able to enjoy."

For Liga Mexicana del Pacífico president Omar Canizales, this event was part of a broader crossover effort to have baseball without borders.

"This is a source of pride and a big responsibility at the same time," Canizales said. "We are making a concerted effort to fortify our relationship with the D-backs and its fan base as well as turning Liga Mexicana del Pacífico fans into people who allow Mexico to embrace the D-backs more and more."

The roots of the franchise's Hispanic Heritage Day go back to 1996, before the team's inception.

"It all started in 1996, when we asked MLB to include the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa in the team's territory," said Richard Sáenz, from D-backs Hispanic relations. 

Sáenz has been a great source of advice for D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall as well as an outstanding ambassador every time the team goes south of the border for goodwill visits, announcements or games.

"We have fans that live in Mexico but are close by in places such as Culiacán, Nogales, Hermosillo and many others, and they travel to support us. [Hispanic Heritage Day] is a true success," Sáenz said. 

That success was also seen in Hermosillo earlier this week when Hall was joined by D-backs legends and World Series champions like Luis González and Erubiel Durazo to reach out to the community in Hermosillo and interact with kids from Liga Unison (Unison League) as part of a goodwill tour.

Fans like Javier Quiñonez, a Naranjeros diehard who moved to Arizona from Hermosillo 16 years ago, was at the HHD festivities to support both of his teams and hopes someday to see the next great D-backs player hail from his hometown.

"I came from Hermosillo when I was 6, but my love for the Naranjeros remains just as strong as my passion for the D-backs," Quiñonez said. "Two passions, one heart. That's what Hispanic Heritage Day is all about."

Arizona Diamondbacks

Salas, Marte take part in D-backs bike giveaway

dbacks.com

A little girl stood wide-eyed at the Jerry Colangelo branch of the Boys & Girls club in West Phoenix as she saw two of her favorite D-backs, second baseman Ketel Marte and pitcher Fernando Salas, standing in front of 100 bicycles. The bicycles were for kids in need as part of a giveaway during the third annual "D-backs Safelite AutoGlass Summer of Safety."

"Safelite is one of our biggest partners. They helped us underwrite the cost of the bikes, and yesterday we got together to assemble all 100 of them," D-backs vice president of corporate and community impact Debbie Castaldo said. "These are kids that need our support in the community.

A little girl stood wide-eyed at the Jerry Colangelo branch of the Boys & Girls club in West Phoenix as she saw two of her favorite D-backs, second baseman Ketel Marte and pitcher Fernando Salas, standing in front of 100 bicycles. The bicycles were for kids in need as part of a giveaway during the third annual "D-backs Safelite AutoGlass Summer of Safety."

"Safelite is one of our biggest partners. They helped us underwrite the cost of the bikes, and yesterday we got together to assemble all 100 of them," D-backs vice president of corporate and community impact Debbie Castaldo said. "These are kids that need our support in the community.

"We work with the Boys & Girls club to choose kids that might not otherwise get a bike. They also get a free helmet. It's a lot of fun for us to give them away so that kids can be active."

The young girl and her friends got to learn about bike safety from Phoenix area law enforcement, as well as the fire department, but she was hesitant about actually riding one since she had never done so before. That was when Salas came up to her and helped her get through the "Bike Rodeo," an obstacle course designed to apply the lessons learned.

"To see the kids' faces full of joy fills me with happiness," said Salas, who along with Marte also rode his own bicycle around the obstacle course. "My favorite moment of all was when I helped that girl who didn't know how to ride a bike, and I saw her take her first steps in learning how to do it."

Marte echoed that sentiment and promised that he would be back next year.

"It was all really beautiful," said Marte.

Marte even played basketball with the children before the event.

"We are here to help the kids be happy. What I loved the most was seeing the smiles in all their young faces. We want to come back next year and give back the love and happiness that they have always shown us."

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs' Inclusion Day brings fans together

Dbacks.com

The D-backs partnered with various organizations across the state of Arizona this Saturday to celebrate its 7th annual Inclusion Day and Expo at Chase Field.

D-backs fans were able to check out various displays from organizations such as "Project 34," the Barrow Neurological Institute and the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired after they knocked down piñatas at the "SOL La Terraza" section and accessed the Legends Suites in the upper concourse of Chase Field.

The D-backs partnered with various organizations across the state of Arizona this Saturday to celebrate its 7th annual Inclusion Day and Expo at Chase Field.

D-backs fans were able to check out various displays from organizations such as "Project 34," the Barrow Neurological Institute and the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired after they knocked down piñatas at the "SOL La Terraza" section and accessed the Legends Suites in the upper concourse of Chase Field.

The experience was a hit for everyone involved.

"A lot of people with disabilities enjoy baseball," said Dan Clemente, who greeted fans in front of the suites as one of the exhibitors in charge of the event.

"It's good to let the community know about all the services that are available within this organization. … All the organizations that are here help those who are facing challenges in their day-to-day lives."

Those challenges are a daily reality for people like Jacob Ulrich, whose disability doesn't allow him to walk. Jacob came to the game with his mother, Teresa, and was enjoying every second of it.

"I'm happy, appreciative and thankful," said Teresa. "This is one of the few places we can [come] to. The Diamondbacks are leading the way."

One of those leading the way was Cory Hahn, D-backs coordinator of professional scouting, and co-founder of Project 34.

"Inclusion Day is really cool. It doesn't only raise awareness, but it allows people to connect," said Hahn. "When you come here, you realize that you are not alone. For the D-backs to be a part of that is pretty special."

Cory was paralyzed from the chest down during his freshman season at Arizona State, but his contributions off the diamond helping people with spinal cord injuries were a vital part of Inclusion Day.

"Project 34 is a foundation that wants to be the bridge that helps people with their independence and their quality of life [by] providing the supplies, physical therapy and whatever we can to make their lives easier. I've been very fortunate to have the support to chase my dreams, and we want to do the same for others," Hahn explained.

Hahn's words also applied to people such as Hailey Dawson, who threw the ceremonial first pitch with a 3D-printed robotic hand (having been born missing three fingers in her right hand), and Michelle McIndoe, a girl who suffers from autism and sang the national anthem before the game.

"You realize that baseball is a physical sport, but everything off the field counts just as much," Hahn said. "There are so many ways that baseball can impact the lives of many and provide opportunities for people that want to chase their dreams."

The D-backs, thanks to Cory and others like him, were able to help make those dreams come true.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Girl with robotic hand throws inspirational pitch

Special to MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Eight-year-old Hailey Dawson threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the D-backs game Saturday, delivering another inspirational strike along her journey to complete a tour of all 30 Major League stadiums this summer.

Dawson celebrated by wagging her specially crafted plastic right hand and doing a few impromptu dance moves as designated catcher David Peralta raised his hands skyward.

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PHOENIX -- Eight-year-old Hailey Dawson threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the D-backs game Saturday, delivering another inspirational strike along her journey to complete a tour of all 30 Major League stadiums this summer.

Dawson celebrated by wagging her specially crafted plastic right hand and doing a few impromptu dance moves as designated catcher David Peralta raised his hands skyward.

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"She's a ball of energy," her mother Yung said.

Hailey was born with Poland Syndrome, a condition that caused her to have a missing right pectoral muscle. Because of that she is missing three fingers on her right hand and has an underdeveloped pinkie and thumb.

She throws underhanded while wearing a 3D-printed robotic hand that was created by the University of Nevada-Las Vegas college of engineering. The hand, connected with 30-weight fishing line, is controlled by the wrist movements.

Tweet from @Dbacks: Check another one off the list, @haileys_hand. ��� #journeyfor30 pic.twitter.com/kC4VaeDv4X

Eight D-backs, including manager Torey Lovullo, autographed her D-backs plastic hand, which slips on and off easily.

"I think it's an incredible story. I know there was a lot of creativity and a lot of hard work to equip her with what she has," said Lovullo, who met Hailey before the game and offered congratulations on her accomplishments.

"It's a pretty incredible story."

Hailey threw out the first pitch as part of the D-backs' seventh Inclusion Day, which is designed to share the message of inclusion rather than of focusing on disabilities. The team also provided resources at Chase Field to educate fans about different services provided in Arizona.

She made her first ceremonial pitch at age 5 at an Orioles game in Baltimore, where her father, Greg, grew up an Orioles fan and advised the team of their interest. The tour took off from there.

The family lives in Las Vegas, and Las Vegas high school products Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo also have been behind the plate during her tour of Major League facilities.

Hailey threw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the World Series in Houston last year and is just back from a 19-day road trip that included a final stop in Boston. Next up: Dodger Stadium, which would be her 23rd venue.

She is hoping her favorite player, Manny Machado, will be behind the plate again. Machado caught her first pitch in Baltimore in 2015.

Archie Bradley, Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, Chris Owings and Peralta met Hailey before the game Saturday, and Jon Jay presented her with a signed bat. Jay wrote:

"Hailey. Keep Inspiring. Dream Big."

Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs honor Native American youth teams

Recognize 1,178 kids who took part in the 20th annual Inter-Tribal Youth Baseball & Softball Tournament
Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks honored the Native American community on Sunday afternoon -- as they hosted "Native American Recognition Day," presented by Gila River Hotels and Casinos. Some of the honorees were the 1,178 kids who participated in the 20th annual Inter-Tribal Youth Baseball & Softball Tournament, as they had an opportunity to take part in a parade around the outfield at Chase Field before the game against the Marlins.

"It's a lot of fun going back and thinking of the memories of when ... [Brad Boxberger and I] used to play Little League together," said D-backs infielder Deven Marrero, who also caught the ceremonial first pitch from Gila River Indian Community Lt. Governor Robert Stone.

The Arizona Diamondbacks honored the Native American community on Sunday afternoon -- as they hosted "Native American Recognition Day," presented by Gila River Hotels and Casinos. Some of the honorees were the 1,178 kids who participated in the 20th annual Inter-Tribal Youth Baseball & Softball Tournament, as they had an opportunity to take part in a parade around the outfield at Chase Field before the game against the Marlins.

"It's a lot of fun going back and thinking of the memories of when ... [Brad Boxberger and I] used to play Little League together," said D-backs infielder Deven Marrero, who also caught the ceremonial first pitch from Gila River Indian Community Lt. Governor Robert Stone.

The ceremony included recognition of the top four teams in each division, as well as the Most Valuable Players in both sports.

Marrero and Boxberger spent a day with the kids during the tournament, which took place from Thursday-Sunday. The event gathered 78 teams from New Mexico, California, Utah, Arizona and Mississippi, an astonishing expansion for an initiative that had started out with just 12 squads in 1999.

"We have to give back to the youth, because I remember being [a kid] and seeing Major League players come and stop by," said Marrero. "It means a lot. It's the same game when you are this young and where [Brad and I] are now.

"These guys are pretty talented. ... One of them could be in the Major Leagues one day."

Arizona Diamondbacks

Hometown Hero Award winner saved life at PHX

Arizona Diamondbacks

It was an ordinary afternoon on the job for Bill Duncan, an American Airlines team member who works at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, until a passenger suffered a heart attack and Duncan leapt into action to save his life. That heroic feat earned him the gratitude and recognition of the community and the Arizona Diamondbacks as he became the first recipient of Gonzo's Hometown Hero Award prior to last Saturday's D-backs-Nationals game at Chase Field.

"This is a great opportunity to recognize special and unique people that do extraordinary things in our community," said D-backs legend and 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez, who presented Bill with the award during an on-field ceremony. "He saved a life and jumped into action in a situation where a lot of people would go the other way."

It was an ordinary afternoon on the job for Bill Duncan, an American Airlines team member who works at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, until a passenger suffered a heart attack and Duncan leapt into action to save his life. That heroic feat earned him the gratitude and recognition of the community and the Arizona Diamondbacks as he became the first recipient of Gonzo's Hometown Hero Award prior to last Saturday's D-backs-Nationals game at Chase Field.

"This is a great opportunity to recognize special and unique people that do extraordinary things in our community," said D-backs legend and 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez, who presented Bill with the award during an on-field ceremony. "He saved a life and jumped into action in a situation where a lot of people would go the other way."

Duncan is a lifelong D-backs and Cubs fan who was moved by having his idol present him with a No. 18 D-backs jersey, gift bag and a baseball signed by Gonzo himself.

"It means a lot," said Duncan, who was assisted by a critical care nurse and a defibrillator during the Sky Harbor emergency. "Gonzo is a baseball hero of mine. I'm a Cubs fan, so I loved it when he played for them, and then even more when he got the game-winning hit in the 2001 World Series.

"[The incident at Sky Harbor] was very scary, very intense, but the gentleman came back. He went to the hospital and had a quadruple bypass. I was fortunate enough to see him a few months later on his way back to Indiana."

Gonzalez is eager to be on the forefront of thanking and helping heroes such as Duncan. Earlier this year, Gonzalez founded the Gonzo's Hometown Heroes Fund to benefit projects, programs and nonprofit organizations that support police officers, firefighters and first responders across Arizona. A portion of the proceeds from the new Gonzo's Grill food stand, presented by Tyson Foods, at Chase Field will benefit this new program.

"People too often walk the other way or don't want to get involved," said Gonzalez, who himself pulled a woman from a car after an accident last June. "You see it a lot in today's society. That's why we want to honor and recognize special people like Bill that go above and beyond the call of duty."

In addition to the D-backs hosting Hometown Heroes Weekend on July 6-8 -- with a portion of those ticket sales benefitting Gonzo's Hometown Heroes Fund -- Gonzalez and the ballclub will recognize a local hometown hero each month at a D-backs home game. Fans are encouraged to submit nominations at dbacks.com/hometownheroes.

Martin Bater is a contributor to MLB.com.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs unveil Willie Bloomquist Field in Tempe

Arizona Diamondbacks

Ask 9-year-old Zachary Hull how he did in his last Tempe South Little League game, and the outfielder/catcher is quick to forgo any mention of a 2-for-3 night at the plate or throwing out a baserunner trying to stretch a single into a double. Instead, expect to hear about that last game's final score and his Monsoon team's latest win-loss record. The youngster's team-first mentality is ironic, since it's reminiscent of the overall group effort that went into Tempe's Willie Bloomquist Field.

Hull joined his Monsoon teammates and the seven other Tempe Minors teams on Saturday to help unveil the 41st "Diamonds Back" field in the D-backs and Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation's youth field-building program, supported by APS. Just weeks after the big league ballclub debuted Erubiel Durazo Field in Douglas, Ariz., the renovated Willie Bloomquist Field similarly represented a community investment in youth sports programs exceeding $10 million since its overall inception in 2000.

Ask 9-year-old Zachary Hull how he did in his last Tempe South Little League game, and the outfielder/catcher is quick to forgo any mention of a 2-for-3 night at the plate or throwing out a baserunner trying to stretch a single into a double. Instead, expect to hear about that last game's final score and his Monsoon team's latest win-loss record. The youngster's team-first mentality is ironic, since it's reminiscent of the overall group effort that went into Tempe's Willie Bloomquist Field.

Hull joined his Monsoon teammates and the seven other Tempe Minors teams on Saturday to help unveil the 41st "Diamonds Back" field in the D-backs and Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation's youth field-building program, supported by APS. Just weeks after the big league ballclub debuted Erubiel Durazo Field in Douglas, Ariz., the renovated Willie Bloomquist Field similarly represented a community investment in youth sports programs exceeding $10 million since its overall inception in 2000.

The latest "Diamonds Back" field features a new scoreboard, fencing, windscreens and trees funded by the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, while the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community funded the irrigation system, sod and other general field and practice field updates. With additional support provided by the City of Tempe and local contractors and businesses, the D-backs Camper Fund -- led by several members of the annual D-backs Fantasy Camp -- also played a major role in Willie Bloomquist Field, raising funds to assist the D-backs with efforts to promote interest in youth baseball and softball since 2008.

"When we put a player's name up on one of these fields, we have to make sure that it is a player who truly has made an impact on the fan base and the community -- and one that we are going to be proud of forever," said D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall. "There is no doubt that Willie is the right role model for all of these residents here in Tempe. When I think back to players that have worn a D-backs uniform, one stands out. And that's Willie Bloomquist."

Bloomquist's ties to the area are strong. In addition to playing for the D-backs from 2011-13 -- which included filling an important role on the '11 National League West championship club, his lone playoff appearance in a 14-year MLB career -- Saturday's field dedication was in the shadow of nearby Arizona State University, where the Sun Devil Hall of Famer earned 1999 Pac-10 Player of the Year honors and posted a collegiate batting average of .394 over three seasons.

"Usually, when you mention these D-backs fields, you think of All-Stars, Cy Young Award winners or [World Series] Most Valuable Players," said the former utility player. "I never had those accolades, however, I never wanted to be remembered as that type of player. How I hope to be remembered is [as] somebody who played the game the right way, had the respect of his teammates, fans and friends, and went about his business the right way. So every time a future generation gets to play on this field and asks, 'Who's that guy?' when they see my name on the scoreboard, my hope and my desire is that someone will say that's a guy that represented the people that weren't the most athletic or the most talented. He was the guy that worked the hardest and wouldn't be outdone."

Crediting his late father, Bill, former ASU baseball head coach Pat Murphy and former D-backs manager Kirk Gibson as positive influences on his life, Bloomquist told the young Tempe ballplayers in attendance -- who were all decked out in D-backs-branded uniforms as part of the franchise's Give Back jersey program -- that the national pastime can give back in unexpected ways if you let it.

"It wasn't too long ago that I was in your shoes, and my father taught me how to play the game the right way," said Bloomquist. "This game was never meant to be easy. It's a game of failure. It's a game of humbling experiences, and can be downright cruel sometimes. But I promise you, this game builds character if you go about it the right way.

"When you play on this field, I hope that you will respect the game, respect your teammates, respect your coaches, respect the uniform and, most importantly, respect yourself."

Josh Greene is director of publications for the D-backs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs help launch food pantry at local school

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks were leaders both in the National League West and the community on Friday as they joined forces with St. Mary's Food Bank to inaugurate a food pantry for kids in need at William Jack Elementary School in Glendale, Ariz. D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall and St. Mary's president & CEO Tom Kertis. 

"It's just an honor and a privilege to be here to help out and see the great work that the Diamondbacks Foundation and St. Mary's Food Bank are doing in our community," said Ahmed, who spoke in front of a group of 30 kids and brought his wife, Amanda, and his 21-month-old son, Jackson, to the event as well. "It's amazing. Knowing that kids in the valley won't struggle with hunger ... it's really vital to me."

The Arizona Diamondbacks were leaders both in the National League West and the community on Friday as they joined forces with St. Mary's Food Bank to inaugurate a food pantry for kids in need at William Jack Elementary School in Glendale, Ariz. D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall and St. Mary's president & CEO Tom Kertis. 

"It's just an honor and a privilege to be here to help out and see the great work that the Diamondbacks Foundation and St. Mary's Food Bank are doing in our community," said Ahmed, who spoke in front of a group of 30 kids and brought his wife, Amanda, and his 21-month-old son, Jackson, to the event as well. "It's amazing. Knowing that kids in the valley won't struggle with hunger ... it's really vital to me."

The pantry was stocked with 10,000 pounds of canned food and non-perishable items that the kids at William Jack will not only be able to consume for breakfast and lunch in school, but also take home with their custom D-backs backpacks that they received as a gift.

Tweet from @Dbacks: The #Dbacks along with @NickAhmed13 and his wife, Amanda, unveil the Pitch In to End Hunger Food Pantry for students at William Jack Elementary School. #DbacksGiveBack pic.twitter.com/uB1YDIi6Je

"It's a big issue; You have 500,000 kids that don't know where their next meal is coming from, and we really want to focus on that," Hall said as he highlighted the need to help nourish Arizona's kids, adding that his goal is for 49 other schools to have pantries as well. "This is where it all starts ... these kids are all big Diamondbacks fans, and we also try to make it fun for them. We pick programs that are going to be very impactful in our state, and this is one of them."

According to St. Mary's, more than 2 million Arizonans face the challenge of food insecurity every year.

"We will reload [the pantry] every month for those families that are having trouble making ends meet and don't have enough food at home," Kurtis said after the ribbon-cutting. "That way the kids are well nourished and can excel in school.

"The D-backs are an incredible organization, and they do so much for the community. To work with them helps bring attention to important issues such as hunger in our state."

Poverty and the lack of proper nutrition is something that strikes the Latino community in Arizona stronger than most. The Feeding America network estimates that "nearly one in four Latino children are at risk of hunger in America, compared to 13 percent of white, non-Hispanic children."

Lina Rocha, a parent liaison at William Jack Elementary, aims to prevent that at a school where the majority of its students are Hispanic. Rocha was thankful for the relief that the D-backs and St. Mary's provided.

"We are so excited; I even get goosebumps, because I know that a lot of families are going to benefit from this," said Rocha. "If the kids are fed, they will be more ready to learn and they won't be struggling. We have a high percentage of Latin kids at this school, probably 80 percent. The Latin community is so big in Arizona, and if we can accomplish this now, then they are going to be ready for the future."

The kids took pictures and interacted with Ahmed, who wanted to leave them with a positive message for the future.

"Follow your passion and your dreams, work hard and surround yourself with people who believe in you," said the infielder.

With three meals a day now secured, the D-backs and St. Mary's lent a helping hand for those dreams to be one step closer to coming true.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Race Against Cancer family affair for CEO Hall

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall stood on a stage adjacent to the starting line of the Race Against Cancer and watched as runners took off on the 5K event. Some waved to him, others gave him a thumbs-up. Saturday marked the sixth time the D-backs have hosted this event, but for Hall, some things never change.

"I got chills again today, and I have six times now," he said.

PHOENIX -- Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall stood on a stage adjacent to the starting line of the Race Against Cancer and watched as runners took off on the 5K event. Some waved to him, others gave him a thumbs-up. Saturday marked the sixth time the D-backs have hosted this event, but for Hall, some things never change.

"I got chills again today, and I have six times now," he said.

There were an estimated 3,600 participants, some of which opted to do the one-mile walk instead of the 5K. The money raised will go to Arizona non-profit organizations that provide screening, treatment and support for those dealing with cancer.

But this isn't just another event for Hall and his family.

Hall was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, and his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. Derrick is cancer-free now, and Amy has been in remission for months.

"Honestly, every year I'm teary when I come out here because having support is definitely a huge part of successfully going through treatment," Amy said.

Derrick said the event was started by the D-backs community affairs staff shortly after he was diagnosed, and around the same time he founded the Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation, which focuses on men with prostate cancer. Runners and walkers begin near Chase Field and end with a victory lap in the ballpark.

Sharan Knott, 47, has now participated in the Race Against Cancer five times. She comes with her family, and her son had finished top three in his age group every year leading up to Saturday.

Knott was diagnosed with ovarian cancer four years ago, and went into remission for a year before the cancer came back again. She underwent a total hysterectomy and has now been in remission for the past year.

"Everybody talks to everybody, it's great networking," Knott said. "I'm a pharmacist, so I talk to people all the time while I'm running. It's great."

Tweet from @Dbacks: Thanks to everyone who joined us for the 2018 #DbacksRace Against Cancer! You helped us raise more than $200,000 for the #DbacksGiveBack Foundation. pic.twitter.com/FgRIL4G8zu

When he was diagnosed, Derrick felt it was his responsibility to share his story with complete transparency. Amy -- who is more private -- did the same.

Though he's in the clear for now, Derrick goes to the doctor every three months to ensure everything is fine. Amy is currently doing a clinical trial for a breast cancer vaccine.

"It keeps you thinking constantly because it's a little bit of anxiety, because it's always there and it could always come back," Derrick said. "But if it does, you fight again."

Support is key in the fight. Family, friends and D-backs employees wore red wristbands that said, "DHallDbacks" to support Derrick. They sported pink ones with "#MamaStrong" written on them during Amy's fight, an idea that Derrick and Amy's daughter came up with.

"I can't imagine people that are going through it alone," Derrick said.

That's why the D-backs use their platform to host the Race Against Cancer, where they aim to send a message to those affected by cancer.

"You're not alone," Derrick said.

Justin Toscano is a reporter for MLB.com.

Arizona Diamondbacks