MLB gives Make-A-Wish kids an All-Star welcome
LOS ANGELES -- For three young boys from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Friday evening was the start of an All-Star weekend to remember.
Inside a private room at the JW Marriott hotel, Major League Baseball and the Dodgers hosted a welcome reception for the children and their families, who had flown in from across the country for a front-row seat to the All-Star Week festivities. Brody, a 6-year-old from Northbrook, Ill.; Bryan, a 17-year-old from Pomona, N.Y.; and Ethan, a 17-year-old from Fredericksburg, Texas, all used their wish to attend the 2022 Midsummer Classic on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.
As special guests of both organizations, the Make-A-Wish party will also be present at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the Celebrity Softball Game on Saturday and the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday, as well as other activities like Capital One PLAY BALL Park in downtown L.A.
Mike Kallhoff, chief executive officer of the greater Los Angeles chapter of Make-A-Wish, was on hand to greet the children and their families, embracing them as part of a group of more than 100 kids who have had All-Star Game wishes fulfilled over the last 20 years.
“The wish is generally the turning point in a child’s recovery, and that’s why it’s so important for us,” Kallhoff said. “We look at the wish as a way to get kids through their illness and on to better days ahead. This is really a chance to take a break from everything that you’re going through. And I say this from personal experience, as a wish dad who’s had a daughter go through the program -- though with a wish not nearly as cool as the one that you’re getting this weekend. But having seen it already, I know how special it is. And I’m just glad that we get to be a part of your journey.”
Brody, Bryan and Ethan were greeted by a few MLB mascots, including Mr. and Mrs. Met, Mariner Moose, the Oriole Bird and Southpaw (of the White Sox), all of whom have plenty of experience making kids’ days at their home ballparks. MLB and its clubs have worked with Make-A-Wish since 1980 to grant wishes for children, donate tickets and raise money for local chapters.
But an even bigger surprise came courtesy of a trio of SiriusXM Futures Game players, who showed up a day early to present Brody, Bryan and Ethan with their All-Star gifts. Right-hander Taj Bradley of the Rays organization (MLB’s No. 33 prospect per MLB Pipeline); catcher Logan O’Hoppe of the Phillies (No. 88 overall); and second baseman Darren Baker of the Nationals (son of Astros manager Dusty) walked around introducing themselves to the Make-A-Wish kids, while wearing their respective American and National League jerseys.
The players then took to the front of the room and handed out each child’s collection of memorabilia, including a bat, a ball, ASG-branded caps and shirts, and most popularly, a custom replica of their favorite hometown team’s 2022 All-Star uniform.
It’s all part of the warm welcome MLB and the Dodgers hope to provide as they seek to fulfill each child’s dream to the fullest during their time in Los Angeles. As Dodgers vice president of external affairs and community relations Naomi Rodriguez put it: “We are each other’s story.
“The Dodgers’ story is not complete without our community. These kids and these families in there, they’re part of our community. [We] accept the responsibility that in becoming part of the Dodger organization, we are obligated and want to give back to those in need. So it’s more of a privilege and an honor to invite these families into our home if you will.
“By what they’re experiencing today and the rest of the week and going to the All-Star Game and meeting the players, you can change the narrative of their life. It’s something that they’ll never forget.”