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Wainwright holds charity fantasy football draft

Cards players, fans participate in fifth-annual event, raising money for various causes
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- There is no denying the impact that Adam Wainwright has had on the field for the Cardinals over his career. But equally (if not more) staggering is what the pitcher has been able to accomplish off the field for people in St. Louis and around the world.

Wainwright held his fifth annual Big League Impact Fantasy Football Live Draft in St. Louis on Friday. The event allows fans to play a 13-week fantasy football season with Cardinals players and other celebrities. The donations made from the event, where participants drafted their teams, will go to four different causes, including Cardinals Care, Operation Food Search of St. Louis, Crisis Aid International and Big League Impact's Global Initiative Fund.

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ST. LOUIS -- There is no denying the impact that Adam Wainwright has had on the field for the Cardinals over his career. But equally (if not more) staggering is what the pitcher has been able to accomplish off the field for people in St. Louis and around the world.

Wainwright held his fifth annual Big League Impact Fantasy Football Live Draft in St. Louis on Friday. The event allows fans to play a 13-week fantasy football season with Cardinals players and other celebrities. The donations made from the event, where participants drafted their teams, will go to four different causes, including Cardinals Care, Operation Food Search of St. Louis, Crisis Aid International and Big League Impact's Global Initiative Fund.

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The idea for this type of event first came from Wainwright, who has enjoyed playing fantasy football for quite some time but wanted to do something more with it. His brother, Trey, helped get the idea off the ground, and the first event was held in 2013. The organization has since expanded, holding 34 events by the end of '17 and expanding to at least nine different MLB cities with 15 different professional athletes taking on hosting responsibilities. Big League Impact has now raised almost $2 million.

"It's great and humbling to see how much it has grown and how it has gone literally from an idea [that was born] sitting in front of the TV," Trey said. "We have a group of supporters all the way from that very first year, 2013, that keep coming back. ... It's really staggering."

Cardinals players taking part in the event included Lance Lynn, Luke Weaver and Matt Carpenter. Wainwright and his wife, Jenny, play key roles in the organization. They make sure that their donors are aware of where every dollar is being spent. At Friday's event alone, over $140,000 was raised.

A well was built in Haiti that provided clean drinking water for an entire community from the donations made during last year's event in St. Louis. Wainwright took time before Spring Training this year to visit Haiti, which he plans to do again in February 2018, to see the impact that the money would be making.

"It's not everybody at [Wainwright's] level that's willing to get on a plane and go to a third-world country and drink water there and eat food there" Big League Impact director Raymond St. Martin said. "He doesn't just believe in writing a check. He believes in really diagnosing what's happening around the world and then figuring out how he can make an impact."

The events in St. Louis have raised $775,000 for eight different charities. The donations have gone to a variety of important causes, and providing clean water and sanitation to over 11,000 people in Honduras and Haiti is just one example.

For Wainwright, however, what has been accomplished so far scratches the surface of what he hopes is an even more impactful future.

"My goal and my eventual dream, [which] hopefully will come true, is that this would be in 30 big league cities. That's what I've wanted to do," Wainwright said. "I want these other cities to come and see how we do it in St. Louis, because we do it right here. There were six full tables of 12 people, a great showing for a charity event of a fantasy football draft. It's wild to think about where we've come in this event. … We'd love to spread this around as many places as we could."

Alaina Gertzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals, Adam Wainwright