The Royals and KCP&L, together with starting pitcher James Shields, have begun a new community outreach program in 2013 - the Big Game James Section. Through the program, the right-hander, who joined the Royals this offseason from the Tampa Bay Rays, will continue his long-standing association with foster care children.
Shields will host 250 children and their families who are part of local foster care programs at five Royals home games this season. Each child will receive complimentary tickets in section 206, a "Big Game James" t-shirt, courtesy of KCP&L, and a free meal courtesy of ARAMARK and Papa John's Pizza. In addition, the children will participate in a meet and greet with Shields prior to the game. Fans who purchase tickets in section 206 on the designated Big Game James Section nights will also receive a "Big Game James" t-shirt in support of the program.
In addition to treating the kids to a fun night out at the ballpark, the ultimate goal of the program is to raise visibility about the thousands of local foster children in need of homes and the opportunity for families to serve as foster families for these children in need.
"We believe the greatest investment we can make is in our youth, which is why we fund community programs that help children affected by major life transitions," said Chuck Caisley, KCP&L vice president of Marketing and Public Affairs. "This program gives foster kids the same chance to go to a baseball game, bond with their caregivers and make childhood memories that other kids in our community enjoy."
The first Big Game James Section event was held on Friday, May 24. Children from KVC Behavioral HealthCare, Inc. were guests that evening and will also participate in the program later in the season. KVC's work as a private, non-profit organization enriches and enhances the lives of thousands of children and families by providing medical and behavioral healthcare, social services and education. Founded in 1970, KVC works to heal the most traumatic cases of childhood abuse and neglect. Named in 2008 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a best-practice organization, KVC is a leader in the use of evidence-based research and innovative tools and technology to advance the welfare of children and families.
Other foster care children associated with Drumm Farm Center for Children and Jackson County Children's Division will also participate in the program later in the season.
"This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart," said Shields. "My wife and I started working with foster children when I was with the Rays, and I'm excited to continue with the Royals and KCP&L. Spending a day out at the ballpark is a great family activity, and I hope this program helps bring foster kids and families closer together as we try to find permanent homes for these children."