Howard kicks off fundraiser in Philly
Slugger's foundation will focus efforts on families, children
PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard's home away from home is Citizens Bank Park, which is nearly nine miles south of Hunting Park in north Philadelphia.
Citizens Bank Park is a palace. Hunting Park has seen better days.
It helps explain why Howard kicked off The Ryan Howard Family Foundation with a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Hunting Park. The foundation, which will focus its efforts in Philadelphia and Howard's native St. Louis, donated $50,000 to revitalize the 87-acre park.
"We chose the park because we recognize the important role that a park plays in the community," Howard said. "It not only functions as a place for kids to play, but as a hub for community activity. Kids have a place to play sports, families have a place to gather and neighborhoods as a whole come together. And in these challenging times it's critical for each of us to give our time and our resources to help improve the quality of life for those in need."
Howard grew up in suburban St. Louis with his twin brother Corey, who serves as manager of programs and services for the foundation.
Howard had the opportunity to go in a million directions with his foundation, but he chose to go into the city. The foundation's mission is to "improve the lives of disadvantaged youth and families ... through the development and implementation of programs that advance education, nutrition, physical fitness and socioeconomic status."
"Why not?" he said. "It's all about trying to give back to the kids."
Howard will celebrate the launch of The Ryan Howard Family Foundation by hosting a party on the eve of the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis. The party will serve as a fundraiser, which will feature a performance from DMC of Run-DMC.
"I know some of these kids don't even know who that is, but that's OK," Howard joked. "All the grown folks know who that is."
The kids might not know who DMC is, but Wednesday they learned Howard's foundation is going to build up their park again.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.