Zunino helping kids through Hooton Foundation

August 14th, 2018

OAKLAND -- When Mike Zunino homers, he doesn't get cheated. His solo shot in Sunday's 4-3, 10-inning win over the Astros was a soaring 442-foot blast over the railroad tracks above the left-field stands at Minute Maid Park, the second-longest home run of his career.

But Zunino is crushing more than just home runs these days. The Mariners catcher is a big hit off the field as well, serving this season on the advisory board of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, a Major League-wide group that is leading efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and fight drug abuse among kids across the country.

"It was something I was approached about last year and something I believe wholeheartedly in," Zunino said. "Obviously looking into the foundation and what it stands for, living a healthy life and doing everything through hard work and doing things the right way is something I try to accomplish.

"To be able to convey that message to kids coming up in a tough environment, when you see everything on social media now and everything gets magnified, it's just something I want to help spread the worth with."

Zunino is serving as the Mariners' representative on the advisory board, which now has members from 28 of MLB's 30 teams. Zunino and the others participate in the foundation's public-service "It's All Me" campaign and community events designed to educate and encourage kids to lead clean lives.

"Obviously growing up and watching a lot of sports and how influential a lot of athletes can be, just to be able to get out into the community and hopefully help push kids in the right direction to get out and live an active and healthy lifestyle is the biggest thing," Zunino said. "Drug awareness is a huge part of it. When it comes to that, it's just being absolutely aware of drugs of abuse and just being able to say no to it.

"Just promoting a healthy lifestyle, whether it's diet and exercise, saying no to drugs and just implying that into the community and getting those kids the confidence to say no if they're ever approached in that situation."