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BaseBOWL benefit close to Donaldson's heart

Blue Jays' 3B raises money for local youth-mentoring organizations
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson was back in Toronto on Thursday night to host his fourth annual BaseBOWL Tournament to benefit the Jays Care Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto.

Donaldson, who has been at the Blue Jays' facilities in Dunedin, Fla., rehabbing from a calf injury, said he chooses to work with these organizations because the work they do relates to his own childhood and adolescence.

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson was back in Toronto on Thursday night to host his fourth annual BaseBOWL Tournament to benefit the Jays Care Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto.

Donaldson, who has been at the Blue Jays' facilities in Dunedin, Fla., rehabbing from a calf injury, said he chooses to work with these organizations because the work they do relates to his own childhood and adolescence.

"It rings close to home, growing up in a single-parent home and not really having a father in my life," Donaldson said before the event. "I definitely had people who were able to step up to the plate and try to help guide me in certain directions. I think it's a huge program for people who are also in that same type of situation, to have a person to help guide them."

In addition to the bowling, the event had a silent auction during which attendees could bid on signed memorabilia and vacation packages. Each team of five bowlers had a celebrity member -- most of them Donaldson's Toronto teammates -- while the night was emceed by 17-year MLB veteran and current Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez.

Donaldson was frustrated with a recent setback in his recovery that prevented him for preparing for Toronto's upcoming homestand, but he valued the opportunity to bring his team together for a good cause.

"It allows us to give back to the community, most importantly. The main focus isn't necessarily about us or my teammates," Donaldson said. "It's nice that they're able to come here, and we can gather here, but it's about the families this is going to impact. It's about the kids this is going to impact, and hopefully give them a better chance to succeed."

Since it was founded in 1992, Jays Care has worked to create lasting social change for children and youth through baseball by getting Canadian kids involved in the game, building safe spaces, and supporting organizations dedicated to improving the children's lives.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto utilizes programs that are preventative and operate from a strengths-based perspective with local youth. Through long-term programs, children are mentored to give back to their own communities, stay in school and respect their family and peers.

Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale was the early favourite to star in the bowling tournament, said Donaldson, who planned to be cautious with his calf and stay off the bowling lanes for the night.

"I'm not a great bowler by any stretch of the imagination," Donaldson added. "I'm no Mookie Betts."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson