Reds' Giveathon Week raises money, awareness for youth sports

June 27th, 2023
This year’s Bally Sports Ohio Telethon raised almost $310,000, a new record for the event.

Last week, the Reds Community Fund held its first Giveathon Week presented by PNC & St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

The Giveathon expanded the highly successful Bally Sports Ohio Telethon presented by PNC to a weeklong series of events to raise charitable dollars and awareness. Each day featured Reds Community Fund (RCF) programming that highlighted its mission that focuses on youth baseball, softball and education.

“This is the first time the Telethon has become a week of giving and awareness,” RCF executive director Charley Frank said. “This Giveathon model gives us a chance to tell our story in a way that Reds fans may have not heard before. We are not being shy this week; we are hoping we inspire folks to donate. Baseball and softball are not inexpensive sports to play, and especially in the urban core, we are really trying to make the game more accessible. We want to break down barriers. We hope that Giveathon Week is the ongoing message that starts with the Telethon.”

In partnership with Bally Sports Ohio, the Telethon took place on Tuesday, June 20 during the Reds- Rockies game. Fans were encouraged to donate and offered the opportunity to purchase an MVP Package filled with Reds memorabilia for each donation of $100. The premium $200 package also included a mini home plate signed by a Reds player. And donate they did, as inventory sold out by the end of the night.

Throughout the broadcast, different RCF initiatives such as field renovations, the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program and the Fun At Bat program were spotlighted. All money raised during the Telethon helps support these RCF endeavors, among many others.

PNC made a matching gift of $75,000 during an on-air announcement by Warren Weber, PNC regional president for Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Later in the telecast, in recognition of the record totals being raised by Reds fans, PNC raised the amount to $100,000. Thanks to PNC and the great support from fans throughout Reds Country, this year’s Telethon raised almost $310,000, a new record for the event.

“Our mission is so important. People love the Reds, people love the game, and we are trying sustain the game for a long time,” Frank said.

"“I don’t even think about it like volunteering," said Reds legend Joey Votto. "This is my community,”

The following evening, Reds first baseman Joey Votto and mascot Gapper made a special visit to the P&G MLB Reds Youth Academy for a showcase featuring RBI baseball and softball student-athletes. Votto visited each dugout, helped umpire the softball game and provided input for the players and coaches, while Gapper cheered them on.

“I don’t even think about it like volunteering, this is my community,” Votto said. “There are so many familiar faces, so many relationships I have built with these baseball boys and softball girls that I am just grateful they let me come in and interrupt their day to lend support. It feels much less any sort of volunteering or time commitment, I just want to come out and say hi to everyone.”

The appearance of these Reds staples made a huge impact on the young players who couldn’t stop talking -- or tweeting -- about their time with the Reds star.

“My bases loaded double was awesome with the legendary @JoeyVotto attending the game and guest umpiring. I won’t forget this day!!” Academy softball player Alaya White posted.

“It means a lot, helping kids ... the goal is to help every kid that walks through the door of the Academy,” Academy assistant director Kevin Coe said. “If they are playing baseball or softball, we want them to dream to go to college to play and utilize the sport to jumpstart their lives.”

Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft a Reds Youth Baseball Camp at Great American Ball Park.

Day four brought more fun on the field and another Reds player appearance. Twelve kids from neighborhood teams supported by the Reds Community Fund received scholarships to attend a Reds Youth Baseball Camp at Great American Ball Park, which included a Q&A and photos with Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft. Bally Sports Ohio underwrote the registration fee for these special guests.

Kyrie Curry was among the fortunate kids granted the opportunity to attend the camp. Having played for six years, Curry is already a devoted fan of the sport. As a passionate fan of the Reds, he loves attending the games and considers himself Votto’s number one fan. Nothing compared to the joy he felt when he was able to wear the iconic Reds uniform and step onto the very same field where his idol plays.

“It is so important to connect with kids in a way this game desperately needs,” Frank said. “It is so important to give these kids a taste of Reds baseball at a young age. Seeing them improve and leave the camp as bigger fans of the game and bigger Reds fans, that’s the goal.”

The players weren’t the only ones getting involved with Giveathon Week. Reds coach Jeff Pickler organized a youth pickup game with some of his fellow coaches Saturday afternoon at Lemker Field in Ludlow, Kentucky.

Reds coach Jeff Pickler organized a youth pickup game.

“It was fun to be out here on a beautiful day and let kids play baseball,” Pickler said. “To give them more opportunities to get out and play baseball in an environment where they can be free to play the game the way they want to and the way they love, that’s all we’re trying to create.”

Pickler was joined by Reds coaches Kyle Arnsberg, Alon Leichman, Joe Singley, Tim LaMonte and Sam Nalli. Local high school coaches also joined in the fun.

“We had a good crew out here to share their expertise and experience with the players, but more than anything it was about letting them play the game,” Pickler said.

Joey Votto and mascot Gapper made a special visit to the P&G MLB Reds Youth Academy.

Although the successful week has come to an end, the Community Fund hopes to keep the momentum going.

“We’ve got lightning in a bottle,” Frank said. “We definitely want to see the Giveathon grow. We really hope people become familiar with it, that it becomes part of their annual giving. We hope that they want to be a part of the Community Fund, they want to be a part of growing the game. We want to make a difference not just in the Greater Cincinnati area, but throughout the region.”