During the interview I had with Brad Ziegler (here, in case you missed it), we took a little time to discuss the new charity he's in the process of getting up and running. It's called "Pastime for Patriots" and Ziegler is the founder. Since there was a lot he had to say about it I decided to run it as a separate story all on its own.
While things are still being finalized with it as far as plans and what people can do to help, I did get a lot of information from him about its goals and more. I can also tell you that the big roll-out date is scheduled for May 8. Just listening to Ziegler talk about it I could tell how eager he is to make this work and work well, and I plan to donate when the time is right. I'll let his own words cover the rest of it.
Remember, you can follow him here on Twitter and once the website goes live I'll provide a link to it.
We decided to call it "Pastime for Patriots" and we’re really excited about it. I’ve been working very in depth with my agent and reaching out to some other contacts and it’s designed to take the families of soldiers who are serving overseas and try to help get their minds off of things while they’re at home. Instead of sitting at home wondering what Jimmy’s squadron is doing over in Afghanistan today and "I hope he’s safe" and all that stuff, it’s giving them a night out of the house as a family where they can enjoy themselves and not have to sit at home and dwell on that.
Tickets for families:
One of the primary focuses of how it originally started was I decided I wanted to purchase baseball tickets in Oakland for the families of troops serving overseas and give them a chance to get out of the house and not have to pay for it, not make it an expensive night. Taking a family of four to the ballpark can become a really expensive night and I wanted to try to help defray some of those costs and give those people a chance to do that.
We’re trying to expand that now to work with other teams by the 2011 season and allow not just in the Bay Area, or if I’m on another team at some point later in my career, not just wherever I’m at. We want to make it MLB-wide and give families all over the country a chance to have that opportunity.
We also wanted to start a scholarship fund, and I think we’re going to have some really good contacts within the military to help us out with this. But we wanted to start a scholarship for high school seniors who have had a parent killed in action in the past, whether it was when they were a baby or it was last year.
It changes things when you lose a parent and though I’ve never experienced that I’ve got a lot of friends who have gone through that and a lot of it can be financial and a lot of it can be emotional, but at the same time it affords those people a chance to go to college and be able to improve their education and hopefully improve their life after schooling, where in a lot of situations they wouldn’t necessarily be able to have that opportunity without some help. So we’re hoping we can contribute to those situations as well.
We’re also looking into putting together care packages for troops that would have autographed memorabilia from our team and hopefully different teams around the league if we can get the support from other guys, including phone cards so they can call home and talk to their families. We’ll talk to families and family members who are serving overseas and see what their biggest needs are and what the government will allow us to provide them through the mail. I realize we can’t send them a batch of homemade cookies but if we can do things that brighten their day up or give them the chance to reconnect with their families at home then we want to try to make the most of it.
Visiting the troops:
I’m really excited. I’m going to get the chance to go to Afghanistan and Qatar, I believe, in the second week of December and have the chance to thank the troops in person and show them our gratitude. It’s a really exciting thing and the details are still a long way away from being finalized but it seems like that trip’s going to be able to happen and from what I’ve heard from other guys who have got to do that, other athletes around the sport, it’s a life-changing experience and hopefully at the same time it can help boost the morale of the troops over there as well.
The A’s are helping me launch the foundation and get the word out. On May 8 we have a game that Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Rays and it’s our Armed Forces Night. They’re expecting over a thousand military servicemen and women to be at the game and I’m hoping we can get a jet flyover and I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a soldier or serviceman on the field to throw out the opening pitch who was overseas.
With that being the case I approached them right away and said I wanted to be a part of this and if it helps you all out I’ll make that the launch date for my foundation and hopefully use that night to get the word out and let fans know but also let the troops know that there’s a new entity that’s out there to try to help them and their families.
I’m excited about it and hope we can get a lot of fans out there that night and we’re hoping to have a website up and running by then where fans can donate on the website if they choose to or at least have a way to contact us and see if there’s another way we can help if they know where we can purchase phone cards at a good rate or things along those lines.
For certain levels of donations I’m in the process of talking to some other people like Majestic, the company that makes our jerseys and our undershirts for the games. They’re helping me create a specially designed jersey to go to certain fans that donate a certain amount. I’ll sign the jersey and be able to mail it to them with their tax-free contribution letter.
Not just the jersey because obviously that’d be a fairly expensive donation, but stuff underneath that too. Baseballs, photos, potentially a pennant, t-shirts, different things if we can get them lined up where it’ll have the logo of the foundation on there and if it’s something they want signed by me great, or if they just want a t-shirt to wear around and not have signed we could accommodate that too.
We’re excited about a lot of the different possibilities that we have. I’ve also got a couple music artists. The first one I’ve definitely got on board is Aaron Watson, who’s a country music artist that’s really big in Texas. He had a Top 30 or 40 album last year and he’s really excited about the new album he’s got coming out in July.
He talked to me about helping promote the foundation and being able to talk about it during his concerts and sell stuff for the foundation, t-shirts or whatever at the little souvenir stands. He’s all about helping us out and he even told me he’d throw me a bunch of CDs to be able to throw into the care packages for the troops overseas.
We’re in the process of contacting a couple other artists just to be able to see about potentially getting even more feelers out there and more awareness that this project is going on and it’s something I’m hoping to take long past my playing career, hopefully until I get to the point where I’m too old to be able to handle it myself, and turn it over to somebody else.
We’re really excited and my agent’s fired up about how quickly a lot of things have kind of aligned with this and it’s a good networking thing for me. I’ve made a lot of friends in the game in the past and to be able to now take those friends and say, "You know what, would you be willing to help me out with this?" and they’re all just jumping on board real quick so it’s making my job in this entity a lot easier.