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Plutko Family Partners to help during COVID-19

Indians pitcher, wife, create entity to bring masks, food, cheer during pandemic
@MandyBell02
May 13, 2020

CLEVELAND -- The longer sports are away, the easier it is to daydream about their return. Fans may picture their first game back in the stands and professional players surely imagine stepping back onto the field. Indians starter Adam Plutko’s vision is a little different. “Maybe when I’m in left

CLEVELAND -- The longer sports are away, the easier it is to daydream about their return. Fans may picture their first game back in the stands and professional players surely imagine stepping back onto the field. Indians starter Adam Plutko’s vision is a little different.

“Maybe when I’m in left field warming up or something to that effect, I’ll hear someone from the Avon, [Ohio], Meijer, shouting at me, saying, ‘You should get me some Buffalo Wild Wings,’” Plutko said. “And for that half-second, that would be a great thing to hear.”

That may sound odd at first, but if Plutko hears a fan yelling about Buffalo Wild Wings, he’ll know it’s not some random heckler; it's someone who was touched by Plutko Family Partners during a time they needed it most.

Plutko and his wife, Allison, were home one day during the coronavirus pandemic watching Netflix when they had the sudden urge to do more. The two went on a walk and came home with the idea of creating Plutko Family Partners to help those in need during the pandemic. Within days, they began making an impact in the Cleveland area.

“I've always said Corey Kluber has influenced me greatly in my career,” Plutko said. “And that includes off the field. We started talking about how Corey Kluber was leaving [for Texas], and that left a big hole in Cleveland as far as people who donated time and funds and a lot of different things. And he did great charitable work. So I felt that we needed to do something. We don't know if we'll ever replace what the Kluber’s done, but I hope that we can provide something for Cleveland as a whole.”

Their first project was to create masks for the employees at the Greater Cleveland Food Banks and Ohio National Guard. Plutko saw a social media post from his friend, Ashley Kopchak -- a local stylist at Saks Fifth Avenue -- who was creating masks from home.

“[It] just kind of hit me,” Plutko said. “I texted her right away and said, ‘How many masks can you make if we gave you X amount of dollars?’ And she got on it and bought all the yarn she could, and that's it.”

The Plutkos didn’t stop there. They reached out to the Indians’ community outreach team to see what else they could do, and the club connected them to Buffalo Wild Wings. From their first conversation with the restaurant, Plutko and his wife realized that their goals were aligned. That created a partnership that is responsible for serving 1,000 meals and handing out 3,000 gift cards to essential workers.

“I know I could always use a little bit of comfort food when life gets hard,” Plutko said. “You know, after a bad start, I'll be the first to admit that pizza and beer sounds better than anything in the world. And so hopefully, some of these meals provided by Buffalo Wild Wings can go a long way for some of these people.”

The Plutko family is currently home in Texas but said it was important to find a way to give back to the Cleveland community, even from halfway across the country.

“The Cleveland community is like home for us.” Plutko said. “You just realize how special of a place it is. How much they absolutely adopt whoever is on that sports team or their sports franchises, [it's a] huge sports town and they've been so awesome to me, and it just feels like home. It's a really special place.”

The fact that Plutko’s wife and toddler can be involved in this process is most important to the pitcher. After they work together to find groups to partner with and help, the family works around Plutko’s pitching and workout schedules to have a video call with the employees who have received donations.

“[It makes us feel] just incredible,” Plutko said. “I think that's why we didn't want it to be a foundation. We wanted it to be a partnership, and that wording is really important to us. We want to create partnerships with all these different communities and different individuals that we're helping out so the fact that they're feeling the partnership and not just taking a meal and running like that, that's really important to us, and it makes us feel a lot better.”

The idea sparked during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the couple doesn't expect to slow down whenever the virus goes away. The Plutkos have plenty of ideas in mind moving forward.

“Right now, we want to keep it just real small, just us, and see where we go,” Plutko said. “Allison is a huge pet lover, [and] her dad died of heart disease. So those are two things that she was really passionate about. I have my passions as well. So we don't want to just pigeonhole ourselves. … We want to give ourselves options and ambiguity so that we if we feel there's a partnership available, then we can definitely hop on it.”

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.