Dee Strange-Gordon is no stranger to helping others. With Pitch In For Baseball & Softball and its partners, Strange-Gordon recently hosted a special event to inspire kids through the game of baseball.
The former National League batting champion, Gold Glove winner, and two-time All-Star teamed up with PIFBS, Wilson Sporting Goods, SafeSpace, and the Jackie Robinson Training Complex to hold a drive-through equipment event and clinic on January 30th in Vero Beach, Florida.
The drive-through portion helped provide baseball gear to 115 children, followed by a socially distanced clinic for 20 kids from Vero Beach RBI and the domestic violence shelter SafeSpace.
“The goal was just to reach kids, that’s pretty much the goal all the time,” Strange-Gordon says. “I think more important than giving your money, is giving your time.”
With help from three friends and his young nephew, Strange-Gordon handed out packs of gear provided by PIFBS and Wilson, and interacted with the children as their cars passed through. The drive-through took place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., presenting kids with a backpack, plastic bat and ball set, face mask, helmet, and baseball, as well as the chance to meet the big league veteran.
The drive-through was followed by an hour-long clinic, where Strange-Gordon taught basic baseball skills through soft toss and different stations, and spent one-on-one time working with the participants.
A number of children attended through the local shelter SafeSpace, which has provided nearly half a million safe nights of shelter to more than 40,000 domestic violence survivors and children throughout the Treasure Coast area. Supporting children impacted by domestic abuse is a cause that is deeply meaningful to Strange-Gordon, who lost his mother to domestic violence when he was seven years old.
“That means so much, because that means they came from what I’m coming from,” Strange-Gordon says of the chance to work with kids from SafeSpace. “We can connect on a different level.”
In 2015 while with the Miami Marlins, Strange-Gordon started a program called “Flash of Hope” as a way to provide support and encouragement.
Through his program, Strange-Gordon invites kids to sit with him in the dugout and talk about their goals and what they’re going through. He hosts bowling events for the families and invites groups from local shelters to come out to his games.
“I just wanted to give back to and inspire domestically abused kids to be something. Everybody just sometimes needs a little pick me up, and I just want to be that sometimes, be an outlet for them.
“I try to level with them, try to show them that we’re the same.”
Although the pandemic has made it nearly impossible to bring people together, Strange-Gordon says this camp with PIFBS, Wilson, SafeSpace, and the JRTC was a big step in the right direction.
With masks and social distancing, Strange-Gordon was able to safely create positivity and hope for local children through the game of baseball.
“I just want to inspire them to do whatever it is that they want to do great. It doesn’t have to be baseball, they can take my story and go be the best doctor ever if they want to be,” Strange-Gordon says.
“I just want to let them know to be inspired to do something.”
If you have new or gently-used baseball or softball gear to donate that could help give children all over the world the chance to play ball, please schedule a drop off here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.