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Royals put community outreach at forefront

KANSAS CITY -- Without question, the Royals are a team that takes great pride in giving back to the community, as evidenced by their commitment to numerous community and charitable initiatives.

Perhaps none of their endeavors stand out more than general manager Dayton Moore's passion for reviving youth baseball in the Kansas City area. In September, Moore and Kansas City officials announced an ambitious $14 million project to create a Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy near the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Moore, the founder of the C You in the Major Leagues foundation, and the Royals raised $6.5 million to help launch the first phase of the Urban Youth Academy project.

:: Baseball's Giving Spirit ::The Royals organization and the Glass family stay connected to the community in many other ways as well, most notably through Royals Charities, which hosts numerous events to raise money for local initiatives.

Royals Charities is funded primarily by the events it hosts, including a golf tournament, a 5K run/walk, an on-air-broadcast auction in conjunction with FOX Sports Kansas City, and its signature event, the Diamond of Dreams, which is held at the stadium and features food/drinks from Kansas City's favorite restaurants, appearances from current and former Royals and a silent auction. This year's Diamond of Dreams raised $265,000.

Still, a large portion of charitable funds comes directly from the in-stadium 50/50 Raffle. Boosted by a record-setting season attendance in 2015 and another run to the World Series, the 50/50 Raffle raised more than $1 million for local charities that support children, education, youth baseball and softball, and the military.

Royals Charities also raised $100,000 during one Royals game to honor two fallen Kansas City firefighters, Larry Leggio and John Mesh, who were killed on duty in October. A winning prize pot of $50,000 was awarded to two Royals fans, and Royals Charities donated $25,000 to both the IAFF Local 42 Community Assistance Fund and the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund (S.A.F.E) at the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission.

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There are plenty of examples of Royals players getting involved in charitable activities:

Royals outfielder Alex Gordon has been working with Alex's Lemonade Stand, a foundation to battle childhood cancer, since 2007. Through batting-practice meet-and-greets, lemonade-stand visits from Gordon and his family, a new youth baseball tournament and many other events, Gordon and Alex's Lemonade Stand have been able to provide smiles and laughter to countless children. Royals Charities and Gordon also have donated money to the organization.

In recent years, Royals Charities has encouraged programs that support not only education, but provide an element of mentoring as well. Two programs that Royals Charities works closely with are Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City and High Aspirations. First baseman Eric Hosmer has supported BBBS throughout his time as a Royal.

Royals Charities has also partnered with High Aspirations, a proactive mentoring program for African-American males ages 8-18. Founded by Henry Wash, who was honored in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat during the 2015 World Series, the mission of the program is to raise these young men's aspirations to improve their own lives and the Kansas City community.

The Royals and Royals Charities are strong supporters of United States military members and their families. Since 2003, Royals Charities has donated more than $130,000 to help military families at Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley, the VA Hospital, Whiteman Air Force Base and other military-related organizations.

In August, the Royals and Royals Charities welcomed a group from Save a Warrior, an interactive program that helps provide a powerful healing experience for active duty, veterans, and first responders who are dealing with post-traumatic stress. Their experience included tickets to the game, batting practice, a meet-and-greet with closer Wade Davis and his wife, Katelyn, and an on-field check presentation from Royals Charities and the Davis family. Moved by their stories, Katelyn presented the soldiers with jerseys later during the game. A partnership that started this season, Royals Charities and the Davis family have already been able to fund one of the organization's weeklong healing programs and various other experiences for the men and women who need it.

Those are just a few of the many charitable endeavors the Royals organization commits to every year in its pledge to stay connected to their community.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.
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