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Rays take to runway to help kids in need

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nine innings and a runway make a full day.

After the conclusion of Thursday's 4-3 win over the Twins at Tropicana Field, members of the Rays, their wives and girlfriends, along with some special "dream children" took to a fashion runway to make dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses.

The eighth annual Rays on the Runway event took place at St. Petersburg's Renaissance Vinoy Resort, featuring fashions by Tommy Bahama and Penelope T Boutique.

Players and coaches taking part in the event included Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, James Loney, Sam Fuld, Brandon Gomes, Jeremy Hellickson, Kelly Johnson, Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria, Jake McGee, Matt Moore, Cesar Ramos, Luke Scott, Derek Shelton and Ben Zobrist.

"It is great fun," Fuld said. "All the players get an opportunity to meet some of the kids they're helping. So it's cool that you get to be hands-on and meet face to face the people you're doing the event for. It's a fun event no matter what the cause is, but it's nice to know you're helping out kids in a major way."

Since its inception, Rays on the Runway has raised $200,000 to help the Children's Dream Fund make dreams come true for seriously ill children living on the West Coast of Florida.

"It's just for a great cause," said Gomes, who participated in his first show on Thursday night. "It's a good time for us. This is the best group of guys I think I've ever been around. They're truly pulling for each other. It's more than just teammates -- it's friends -- so to do stuff off the field for charities only serves to make us closer in here."

The runway was just half of it. Players mingled through the crowd prior to taking to the runway, giving Rays fans a chance to get to know some of their favorites.

While the players had plenty of fun participating in the world of fashion, don't look for too many from the group to look toward a second career in modeling.

"I don't think so," said Rodriguez with a smile. "I've lost all my hair."

Despite Rodriguez's harsh assessment of his possible future on the runway, he kept the event in the proper spirit.

"It's definitely a fun event," Rodriguez said. "We go out there and just try to promote. I enjoy it every year."

Added Scott: "The cause is great and the benefits and help it generates, I think, is awesome. And to be able to help in that way is great. Yeah, it's fun. It all depends on what they want you to wear."

Scott doesn't believe he'll be on the runway after baseball, either, though after a moment of thought, he added: "Maybe Cabelas, a couple of dogs, a nice hunter's beard and lumberjack shirt like Hugh Jackman -- plaid, like what he had in 'Wolverine.'"

By the time champagne and dessert were served, players and fans alike had enjoyed their evening. And charity came away the big winner.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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