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Royals Charities spreading goodwill all year round

Players participate in several fund-raising events in Kansas City area

KANSAS CITY -- A World Series came to the Royals for the first time in 29 years, but many Kansas City organizations know there's something they can depend upon every year. That's Royals Charities, an ownership hallmark of the Glass family.

It has provided the Kansas City community and region many things for which to be thankful, donating more than $8.3 million to about 300 organizations since its inception in 2001.

The centerpiece of Royals Charities' many events is the annual Diamond of Dreams, an elaborate extravaganza held on the Kauffman Stadium field on an off-day. It features tents with food from top area restaurants, a silent auction of baseball memorabilia in the Royals' bullpen, on-stage entertainment and mingling with players.

• Diamond of Dreams Photo Gallery

"We get great attendance from the players," said Marie Dispenza, director of Royals Charities. "It's kind of the one event every year that I think they look forward to because they don't have to wear their jerseys, they just come as they are. They bring their wives or girlfriends and they seem to enjoy being there and interacting with the fans."

One who did this year was catcher Salvador Perez, who took the microphone to help pick the winner of a raffle for a Rolex watch.

"He seems like he's pretty good at just taking over," Dispenza said.

As the Royals and their rivals have noticed.

This year's event raised more than $146,000 for the University of Kansas Hospital's Neonatal Medical Home and Royals Charities.

A plethora of events

The Royals Charities 50/50 Raffle raised more than $644,000 for local groups in 2014. Tickets for it are sold at every home game and a winning fan splits half of the money raised. The eight postseason games at Kauffman alone raised $242,000, with Game 7 of the World Series the topper. The raffle winner and charities split $74,660.

"I can only hope we can do that all the time," Dispenza said. "I figured out that 38 percent of the money for charity from that raffle was raised during the postseason."

Variety Children's Charity of Greater Kansas City received a $50,000 donation after a record 1,900 participated in the Royals Charities 5K Run/Walk.

• 5K Photo Gallery

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City was a $25,000 beneficiary for the annual Shirts Off Their Backs event held on Fan Appreciation Day.

Almost 400 women attended the free T.A.K.E. self-defense course at Kauffman Stadium to learn critical personal safety skills.

Players lend a helping hand

Eric Hosmer for the second year held an event for the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. "Step Up to the Plate with Eric Hosmer" gives potential volunteers a chance to learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. Eighty have signed up in two years.

Hosmer this year also held a fund-raising event, "Uncork for a Cause," that benefited the Greater Kansas City Fire Fighters Local 42 Community Assistance organization.

James Shields, Mike Moustakas, Jeremy Guthrie, Danny Duffy and Ned Yost were included in the foursomes at the Royals Charities Celebrity Golf Tournament at the National Golf Club. It resulted in a $65,000 donation to Special Olympics KC Metro.

• Golf Tournament Photo Gallery

For the third time, Aaron Crow led a contingent of Royals associates in serving Thanksgiving meals to the needy at the City Union Mission's Family and Men's Centers.

Alex Gordon is active in the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, originated by young cancer patient Alexandra "Alex" Scott to raise money for children's cancer research. Gordon welcomes children diagnosed with cancer to the ballpark and visits children unable to make the trip at hospitals.

Guthrie made appearances for a cell phone recycling drive, encouraging fans to trade their old phones for Royals tickets.

Billy Butler continued his Hit-It-A-Ton program, raising funds for food to feed Kansas City's hungry through the Bishop Sullivan Center's pantries and community kitchen.

Shields again sponsored his Big Game James section, providing tickets for more than 500 kids from foster care programs.

Kelvin Herrera and Yordano Ventura were ambassadors for the Baseball Tomorrow Fund/Royals Equipment Day in which balls, bats, gloves and other gear were collected for Cristo Rey Kansas City. The school also received a $5,000 check from BTF.

A Royals calendar featuring players with local childhood cancer heroes was produced for sale to support Braden's Hope for Childhood Cancer. Those participating included Jason Vargas, Ventura, Omar Infante, Herrera, Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Greg Holland, Duffy, Moustakas and Alcides Escobar. $10,000 was raised for the foundation.

Escobar took part in the Royals Baseball Ability Camp for kids with physical and developmental disabilities hosted by the Recreation Council of Greater Kansas City.

Other programs

Team president Dan Glass and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. headed a group at the dedications of two adaptive field projects made possible by proceeds from the 2012 All-Star Game Week in Kansas City. The fields for children with special needs were in Independence, Mo., and Olathe, Kan.

• McCoy Park Dedication Photo Gallery

Royals players greeted kids from the Dream Factory program before games throughout the season.

The organization's Minor League award winners visited patients at the University of Kansas Hospital.

During the annual Royals Caravans, the team joined with USO chapters to collect personal care items for military members serving overseas or returning from service. Hand-written thank-you notes for troops also were collected.

Royals alumni John Mayberry and Dennis Leonard greeted more than 250 kids at a TeamSmile free dental clinic at the Royals Hall of Fame.

Special spotlight

For the eighth year, unsung community leaders were recognized at each home game with a place of honor in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat behind home plate.

Members of the military were saluted during each home game in the "Our Heroes" campaign. Hundreds of service men and women have been honored at Royals games.

Greater Kansas City Day involved 1,200 volunteers selling a special edition of the Kansas City Star to help send kids to Rotary Youth Camp as well as other children's charities. More than $110,000 was raised in this year's campaign.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for
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