THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- If sports can help a grieving community heal, then California Lutheran University benefited Friday.While the Rams prepared for the Super Bowl at their on-campus training facility, the Dodgers participated in an emotional tribute to the victims, families, survivors and first responders of the Nov. 7 Borderline
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- If sports can help a grieving community heal, then California Lutheran University benefited Friday.
While the Rams prepared for the Super Bowl at their on-campus training facility, the Dodgers participated in an emotional tribute to the victims, families, survivors and first responders of the Nov. 7 Borderline shooting. It was held in the Lundring Event Center next to Sparky Anderson Field (named for the late Hall of Fame manager and longtime Thousand Oaks resident).
To honor the memories of the 12 lives taken in the massacre and support their families, the club concluded its weeklong "Dodgers Love L.A. Tour" with a two-hour program, highlighted by players and manager Dave Roberts presenting a bat to the family of each victim.
"This week of events gives us a chance to connect the dots with the community," said Roberts. "To share stories and share hugs with people who support us every day. The tragedy that took place here rocked us all. We're all humbled to be here."
During lunch, each player sat at a table with invited guests, like Camarillo resident Jason Coffman, who lost his son, Cody, in the shooting.
"I'm almost speechless that the Dodgers would do this," said Coffman, whose younger son, Dominic, sat next to Cody Bellinger. "For the Dodgers to host something like this, to meet families that are still grieving and just lift our spirits like they're doing, it's spectacular. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing I'm sure none of us are ever going to forget."
The event was emceed by SportsNet LA's Alanna Rizzo. In addition to Roberts and Bellinger, Dodgers participating were Scott Alexander, Matt Beaty, Walker Buehler, JT Chargois, Dylan Floro, David Freese, Rocky Gale, Adam McCreery, Edwin Rios, Keibert Ruiz, Dennis Santana, Josh Sborz, Jaime Schultz, Brock Stewart, Thomas Stripling, Chris Taylor, Alex Verdugo and former Dodger Shawn Green.
"The tragedy that took place that night changed the face of our community forever," said Midge Campbell-Thomas, marketing president from event sponsor Bank of America. "Today is about honoring the families of the victims and honoring the memory of your loved ones. It's about healing."
After lunch, the players received a line dancing lesson from Victoria Meeks, who survived the shooting that night, but lost her brother, Justin.
The Dodgers concluded their campus visit by bussing over to the Rams facility and watching the NFC champions practice for their Feb. 3 showdown with the Patriots in Atlanta.
Earlier in the day, the Dodgers visited patients at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.