HOUSTON -- It's almost time for Alex Bregman to head to Florida for Spring Training, but on Wednesday, he had one more local stop to make before his offseason officially came to a close.The Astros' third baseman dropped by Central Elementary in Angleton, where he delivered free iPads to a
HOUSTON -- It's almost time for Alex Bregman to head to Florida for Spring Training, but on Wednesday, he had one more local stop to make before his offseason officially came to a close.
The Astros' third baseman dropped by Central Elementary in Angleton, where he delivered free iPads to a group of young students with special needs. This project, funded by Gulf Coast Auto Park and Bregman's foundation, AB for AUDS, is geared toward providing educational support for children with autism and Down syndrome.
iPads have emerged as a tremendous communications tool for children with autism, a mechanism Bregman has learned a lot about since his 5-year-old godson, Brady, was diagnosed with autism. After researching the positive impact iPads can have on children with special needs, Bregman knew this was one of the causes he wanted to focus on as his career continues.
"I felt like it was going to be my cause," Bregman said. "It's incredible to be able to make an impact and use the platform that we have in the right way."
Bregman started AB for AUDS with his friends, Jason Columbus -- Brady's dad -- and Jared Koutnik, and he partnered with Gulf Coast Auto to raise money to purchase the iPads. Donating iPads to school programs is one of the first projects that the organization is undertaking.
After the students excitedly opened their iPad packages, they presented Bregman with a large Valentine's Day card that read, "UR a Sweetheart/Thank you!"
Bregman's visit created quite a stir, an unsurprising result of a World Series-champion third baseman dropping by an elementary school unannounced. Bregman's appearance was kept under wraps, but as the arrival time drew closer, word started traveling among the faculty at Central Elementary that he was in the building.
So, there were a few teachers waiting for Bregman in the hallway when he was done gifting the kids with their iPads.
"We skipped our lunch for this," one excited teacher said, just before posing for a photo.
This visit was the first step in what Bregman envisions as a more expansive charitable effort. He plans to hold a fundraising dinner during the season that will involve his teammates as he works to grow AB for AUDS.
"We wanted to try to make a difference in the classroom, and bring awareness to autism and Down syndrome," Bregman said. "It really brings me to a loss for words, knowing you made an impact. I call my godson, and whether I'm doing well or doing bad, it puts a smile on my face. It's special."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.