Rockies spring into action when need arises
Team raises funds, offers support to those affected by fires, shooting
DENVER -- A Major League team's community relations and charity efforts are carefully scheduled and meticulously planned. But the Rockies have demonstrated the ability to act quickly when unexpected tragedies occur.The Denver community suffered two challenges while the Rockies were playing the 2012 season.
Wildfires in late June and early July caused numerous evacuations and destroyed homes and property, especially the Waldo Canyon Fire that forced more than 32,000 residents in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area to be evacuated.Then on July 20, during the midnight screening of the film "The Dark Knight Rises," a lone gunman set off tear-gas grenades and shot into the audience at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and injuring 58. For the wildfires, the Rockies raised $42,000 over a two-day period, and the club matched that amount, so the club was able to make an $84,000 donation. The Aurora incident occurred while the Rockies were on a West Coast road trip, but the players were touched by it. Such players as Todd Helton, Jason Giambi, Matt Belisle, Eric Young Jr., Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Michael Cuddyer, plus special front-office assistant Vinny Castilla -- a player during the 1999 tragic school shooting at Columbine High School -- made personal hospital visits during the team's next day off, after arriving in town via a late flight. The club continued its fundraising efforts for the victims by coordinating with the city of Aurora. Jim Kellogg, the Rockies' vice president of community relations and retail, said it's part of the responsibility of a professional sports franchise to be part of the assistance effort whenever unforeseen trouble occurs. The Colorado Rockies Baseball Club Foundation and the Rockies Charity Fund have given millions to the Denver area and run many scheduled programs. The Rockies also note that whenever something unplanned occurs, they can respond, and the players are a big part of that effort. "It's big," Kellogg said. "We understand and our players understand the responsibility that we carry because of our position. Our players have always been good about that and have been so responsive. They care, they step up and they can lead. They love to help people during those times. They love to give back."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.