Cardinals athletic trainers support PLAY campaign with Busch Stadium event

June 29th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- The 2022 National PLAY Campaign (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth), Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar and several members of the team training staff, participated in an event Tuesday morning at Busch Stadium to promote the importance of children living a healthy lifestyle as well as disability inclusion.

In 2014, the PLAY Campaign became the first program in professional sports to include children with disabilities. PBATS, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, partnered with the National Down Syndrome Society in ‘17 to enhance this effort.

Cardinals head athletic trainer Adam Olsen, assistant athletic trainers Chris Conroy and Keith Joynt, and Taylor Hooton Foundation president Donald Hooton Jr. took part in the event along with 11-to-13-year-old children from the Cardinals Care Redbird Rookies baseball and softball teams, as well as members of the Cardinals Kids Club.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation is a non-profit organization leading a national campaign to educate youth and their adult influencers of the truths about appearance and performance enhancing substances, including anabolic steroids, human-growth hormone (HGH), energy drinks and dietary supplements. 

Gene Gieselmann, head athletic trainer for the Cardinals from 1968 to 1997, is a board member of the Taylor Hooton Foundation and worked with St. Louis’ staff to host the event.

“The event is great, and it brings awareness to the kids about the dangers of steroid use,” Conroy said. "Having Lars Nootbaar was great because he’s great with the kids. It’s a fun event for us. When you can invite kids down to Busch Stadium and let them get on the field and have some fun, that’s a special time for them because not a lot of people have that opportunity.”

The Cardinals' athletic training staff worked with kids on baserunning drills, stretching sessions and work in the outfield. Hooton discussed the dangers of steroid use to the children, while Nootbaar took questions about baseball and playing at the MLB level.

The PLAY campaign was created in 2004 by PBATS. It was formed to raise awareness about childhood health issues and disability inclusion in the United States. PLAY has conducted more than 400 events inside all 30 Major League ballparks, reaching tens of thousands of America’s young people with positive messages about making healthy decisions and living more active and healthy lifestyles.

The PLAY campaign is supported by MLB Charities, the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.