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Everyone wins with Mariners Care

Everyone wins with Mariners Care

Win or lose on the field, Mariners Care enjoyed another win-win season in 2008, as more than $1 million was raised through the non-profit organization and its corporate sponsors.

It marks the ninth consecutive year Mariners Care charitable programs throughout the Northwest topped the $1 million mark, and brought the overall fundraising total this decade to $9.89 million, with the funds benefiting primarily youth-oriented community service programs.

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"We take our responsibility to the community very seriously," Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said. "I'm proud that Mariners Care, our corporate partners and our fans have helped make such a positive and lasting impact on our community."

Every Mariners player participates in at least one charitable endeavor each season.

Since 1987, one of the most successful fundraisers has been the Cystic Fibrosis Mariners Care Golf Tournament, which was a huge success again this past season. The event -- co-hosted by Raul Ibanez, Richie Sexson and J.J. Putz -- raised more than $190,000.

Mariners players, former players and club officials mingle with fans during the event, which includes a silent auction of baseball-related memorabilia that co-hosts collect during the first three months of the regular season.

Over the past 21 years, Mariners players have helped to raise over $4 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in its efforts to find a cure for a fatal disease afflicting children and young adults.

Community service has been a major part of the Mariners' game plan for most of the organization's 31-year existence.

And there is great pride within the organization that former Mariners Harold Reynolds (1991), Jamie Moyer (2003) and Edgar Martinez ('04) were recipients of the coveted Roberto Clemente Award, presented annually since '71 to an MLB player for his charitable work.

Dickey's good deeds
Reliever R.A. Dickey is a prime example of the charitable work that all too often goes unnoticed.

Dickey, who lives in Nashville during the offseason, co-founded the "Honoring Thy Father Ministries" with former big league pitcher Jonathan Johnson. The endeavor includes several current and former Major League players who donate goods that make life easier for people in nations like Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

"It started as a network of baseball players who wanted to reach out and share their stories with kids," Dickey said. "We started doing it in the States, found a connection in Cuba and met up with missionaries over there. It has really blossomed into something that's pretty neat."

The Ministry makes four or five trips a year, speaking in churches and baseball clinics and delivering everything from medicine to baseball equipment. Dickey plans to return to Cuba in January, taking with him several boxes of shirts, shoes and baseball gear donated by Dickey's teammates.

Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who defected from Cuba five years ago, and Ibanez have donated many of the items.

"Yuni and Raul have a real heart for what happens over there," Dickey said.

Other Mariners Care Highlights in 2008:
• Through the Mariners Care Community Section and the Commissioner's Initiative for Children, thousands of children had the chance to attend a Mariners home game. This year's contribution totaled $150,000.

• Since 1985, a partnership between The Boeing Company and the Mariners provides a grant of $100,000 to improve youth baseball fields in the community.  This year's recipient was the City of Des Moines, with funds going towards the Des Moines Field House Park Renovation Project.

• For every Mariners RBI during the 2008 season, PACCAR donated $100 to the Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program. This second-year program raised $75,000.

• A silent auction of autographed memorabilia held during every Saturday game at Safeco Field raised $74,595 for Mariners Care.

• More than $72,000 was raised for Pacific Northwest charities through the "Groundskeeper for a Day" donations offered at various auctions during the season.

• The annual Spring Training Charity Game between the Mariners and Padres at Peoria Stadium raised $58,128.  Beneficiaries included youth-based organizations such as the Girl Scouts, Hope Kids, Homeward Bound, Boys & Girls Clubs and Foundation for Blind Children, as well as local schools, summer camps, food banks and the American Cancer Society.

• Thanks to donations, a generous match by Wizards of the Coast and coins collected in the Wishing Well on the Main Concourse in center field at Safeco Field, $26,000 was donated to Seattle Children's Hospital to benefit Pacific Northwest patients and families.

• The Mariners joined together with Major League Baseball and the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County to support the 14th season of the Seattle RBI League for inner-city boys and girls. The 2008 contribution totaled $25,000.

• The Mariners held their 11th Annual Mariners Education Day on May 7. Mariners players, coaches and broadcasters visited six local elementary schools to deliver the D.R.E.A.M. Team message -- stressing the importance of education and positive thinking.

• In December, broadcaster Rick Rizzs and former Mariners outfielder Dave Henderson will preside over the annual "Toys for Kids" drive that purchases and distributes toys to kids in the Seattle area.

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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