Clint Hurdle was hired as the manager of the Pirates in November, 2010, but he had a connection to Pittsburgh that was important to him well before that.
It was back in 2006, during his stint as skipper of the Colorado Rockies, that he began a relationship with the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. Hurdle and his wife Karla, have a 10-year-old daughter named Madison, who was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome -- a rare and complex genetic disorder that affects many parts of the body -- and the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh is the only hospital-based site in the world that offers treatment for those affected by it.
On Tuesday, as the first official stop on the team's annual Winter Caravan, Hurdle was part of a large contingent from the Pirates and Pirates Charities that presented a $200,000 check to the Children's Institute's Centers of Excellence, which specializes in care for Prader-Willi Syndrome, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and autism.
The proceeds donated are the direct result of the money raised through the "Pirates Charities Root Sports Auction" last August and the "Wins for Kids" program, where fans make a donation to the cause for each Pirates victory throughout the season. Hurdle is also the national spokesperson for Prader-Willi Syndrome.
"I can't say enough about Clint Hurdle and his passion for individuals with Prader-Wili Syndrome," said David Miles, President and CEO of the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. "He's been an outstanding spokesperson, not only for the institute, but for the national association as well. I'm overwhelmed by him at times. We've had Clint come in and talk to groups for us, and every single time it's just been a really moving experience."
Hurdle's relationship with the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh was part of the reason that the opportunity to manage the Pirates seemed like a good fit.
"Finding a place like this where I could get involved and use the platform I have to help make a significant difference in the lives of these children and in the lives of like-minded families with the same set of challenges that we have, it just felt right. It made sense," Hurdle said. "The Children's Institute has been a special place for us for eight years. I've watched it grow, and many of the people here have watched Madi grow up. So there's just a lot of feel-good going on at the Children's Institute for the Hurdle family.
"What I've come to learn in the 10 years of Madi's existence, and through the experiences we've had with her, is that we're in a better place with our children with Prader-Wili now than we were 10 years ago. We continue to make advancements and improvements as so many people reach out to help us. Madi has a brighter future than the generation that was before her, and truly, we can help level the playing field and give these children opportunities to have a meaningful life."
Members of the Pirates' organization who joined Hurdle at Tuesday's check presentation, and the holiday party for patients and students that followed, included Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting, President Frank Coonelly and two of Hurdle's players -- All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen and relief pitcher Jared Hughes.
Jim Lachimia is a contributor for MLB.com.