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Rowland-Smith a worthy Clemente nominee

Rowland-Smith a worthy Clemente nominee

SEATTLE -- Ryan Rowland-Smith has no idea how long his Major League career will last, but he knows that when it ends, his charitable work off the field will continue.

"I would like to do more than I'm doing now," the Mariners left-hander said. "I definitely will get more involved as we go along."

Rowland-Smith, an active member in the Seattle community since his MLB debut in 2007, understands and welcomes opportunities that MLB and its players have to make a positive impact on the lives of children and their communities. And, in just three years, he has already become a significant supporter and spokesman for local charities in the Pacific Northwest. 

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Since his first year in Seattle, he has supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in their efforts to find a cure for CF, a fatal disease afflicting children and young adults. In 2010, he served as the chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Mariners Care Golf Tournament for the second consecutive year and helped to build awareness and raise valuable funds for cystic fibrosis research.

He collects auction items throughout the season and recruits teammates and sponsors to participate in the event, which supports the CF Foundation. The tournament, held on June 21 this year, raised more than $170,000.

As a result of his off-the-field work, the 27-year-old from Newcastle, Australia, is the Mariners' nominee this season for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, which will be awarded during the World Series.

The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder, whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.

Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 4. The fan ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates' Hall of Fame right fielder.

Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2010 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevy will be announced.

"It's a great honor to even be nominated," Rowland-Smith said. "I am aware that other Mariners players have won the award, and that means a lot to all of us."

Former Mariners Harold Reynolds (1991), Jamie Moyer (2003) and Edgar Martinez ('04) received the game's ultimate honor for their charitable work.

"A big part of being a Major League player is to use that platform to help others," said Rowland-Smith.

Rowland-Smith is also active with the Boys & Girls Clubs and in each of the past two offseasons, has teamed up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County to host baseball camps for kids. In addition to providing baseball instruction to each participant, he stresses the important life-skills lessons that are taught daily through character development programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs.

A gift bag stocked with baseball memorabilia is presented to each camp participant.

Rowland-Smith said his association with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has been an eye-opening and rewarding experience.

"Meeting the kids, being around them and seeing how positive they are puts everything in perspective," Rowland-Smith said. "We all struggle at times in our lives, but when we step back and look at what these kids are going through, our troubles are really not that big.

"They put us on a pedestal because of what we do, but it's as rewarding for myself as much as it is for the kids."

Rowland-Smith has also been active with the MLB Players Trust, the charitable foundation of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and their community programs. In 2010, he teamed up with the Volunteers of America and the Action Teams to encourage local high school students to volunteer in their communities and help recruit and train a new generation of volunteers.

On June 3, he joined local high school student leaders at the North Seattle Food Bank to help distribute food to hungry families and sort and bag food to be delivered to home-bound seniors. 

He also found time to lend his support to the Ronald McDonald Charities and Northwest Sarcoma Foundation, is active with Mariners Care, the Mariners' non-profit foundation, and its programs, including Mariners D.R.E.A.M. Team school assembly program, Mariners Get Well Tour, Mariners-Nikon Social Responsibility Program, and Seattle Mariners FanFest.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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