Most baseball games begin with the classic “play ball” exclamation. But at Washington Nationals games, “and raise some money” should be tacked on to the end of the expression.
The Nationals baseball team has joined forces with Washington Area Toyota Dealers to raise funds for the Children’s Inn at NIH through the “K’s for Kids” program. For each strikeout made by a Nationals pitcher, the dealers donate $37 to the inn. The donation increment of $37 was selected as a nod to famed Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s jersey number.
Meredith Daly, media relations manager at the inn, recalls that representatives of the Toyota dealers pitched the K’s for Kids program prior to the 2012 baseball season “with a proposal to support children through baseball strikeouts—helping to strikeout serious illness.” Jim Coleman, one of the representatives, explained that the local Toyota dealers were initially involved with the Nationals and Strasburg, but hoped to expand the program. After looking for a local charity to benefit for the 2012 baseball season, he found “there is nothing better than raising money and awareness for the Children’s Inn at NIH.”
A successful K’s for Kids program during the 2012 season led to a continued partnership for 2013. The 2012 season featured a combined 1,325 strikeouts by Nationals pitchers, amounting to a $50,000 donation to the inn.
The Merck Foundation Co., which has been an ardent inn supporter since helping to build the structure, provided a matching grant opportunity for any inn donors through Aug. 20. The Toyota dealers responded by sending a portion of the K’s for Kids check—$40,000—to the inn so that the donation could be doubled through the matching grant. A Sept. 16 check presentation is scheduled at the Nats game against this season’s top rival, the Atlanta Braves. In addition to monetary donations, Washington Area Toyota Dealers provide 25 tickets for inn families to attend Nationals games and enjoy dinner. Coleman said a game last season in which NIH associates and inn residents were recognized on the field with Strasburg was “a great event.”
Inn CEO Kathy Russell said, “Nats games are a terrific outing for our families who need a break from the stress of tests and treatments.” Daly added, “The goal of the program is not only to financially support the inn, which it has [done] tremendously, but also to give families a chance to get away, to help them forget about the real reasons they come to the NIH—to give kids a chance to be kids and have fun at a ballgame.”
Regardless of the number in the win column or whether they win the World Series this season, the Nationals are still winners in the NIH community by stepping up to the plate for the Children’s Inn. As Daly quipped, “Even when the Nats lose, the inn wins!”