© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
11/26/08 4:00 PM EST
Phanatic to take on new coat for charity
Phils organization hosting painting event in latest benevolent venture
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Got paint? If so, and you're a local artist, you can take part in the Phillies' latest creative way to benefit those less fortunate. In a year in which the team captured its second World Series title, the organization's community involvement has always been championship-caliber. As it does every year, the help takes many forms, whether it's Brad Lidge visiting patients at Children's Hospital, the Moyer Foundation raising money for non-profit organizations or Phillies Wives helping homeless pets get adopted.
For their current fundraising effort, the Phillies have invited local businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations to become a Phillies Civic Partner in the city-wide art program to increase community pride and raise money for local charities.
"That's the best part," said Tom Burgoyne, a close friend of the Phanatic. "We're going to have some good artists and some of these will raise a good bit of money, and it will all go to charity. The Phanatic never gets tired of helping others."
Selected artists -- applications and visions are still being accepted through the middle of December -- will have the chance to paint a five-foot fiberglass replica of the beloved furry creature from the Galapagos Islands. The statues will be exhibited throughout the city in March and April of 2009, kicking off the annual "Paint the Town Red week."
With the next few months, they will be auctioned off, with the funds raised going to Phillies charities.
"The championship may have gone to his head," Burgoyne said. "Instead of having one statue, he's going to have 20."
The first statue, "Phanatic's Fanatics," painted by Max Mason of Wynnewood, Pa., was unveiled during the Phanatic's Birthday Celebration at Citizens Bank Park. Other ideas that have impressed the Phanatic have been a Ben Franklin Phanatic and a Frankenstein Phanatic.
"It's an honor to be part of this program," Mason said. "This project will undoubtedly encourage children to pursue the arts in their everyday lives. The Phanatic is such a wonderful symbol of the community. He keeps us all young at heart, and so does art."
Each person in the Phillies organization has a special cause they take on as their own, and Thanksgiving is a fitting time to acknowledge them for it.
Among them, Ryan Howard has worked with the Variety Club Children's Charity and Make-A-Wish Foundation. In Spring Training of 2008, Howard fulfilled the wish of 17-year-old Anthony Bruni of Pottstown, Pa., who is battling a brain tumor, by meeting with him in the Phillies clubhouse.
Geoff Jenkins raised $60,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Phoenix by hosting a charity poker event in Scottsdale, Ariz. Forty-two professional baseball and football players participated in the event.
Lidge joined several other Major League pitchers in contributing to the "Strikeout for Troops" program that raises money for U.S. soldiers stationed overseas. Furthermore, he started the "Lidge's Legions" program, in which he purchases $10,000 in tickets, concessions and caps for child cancer patients at Children's Hospital. He and wife Lindsay visited Children's Hospital in July.
In April, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino co-hosted the Philadelphia Futures "Get In The Game" charity bowling/billiards tournament. The event raised more than $150,000 for Philadelphia Futures, a mentoring program for inner-city high school students. Utley has sponsored one of their scholars for the past two years.
Wives also get involved.
In May, wives Crystal Durbin, Michelle Burrell and Emiko Taguchi visited the ALS Association Clinical Services Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. ALS has been the primary charity for the Phillies since 1984, and they have raised more than $9.4 million for The ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter's patient services and research.
Through a silent auction, raffle and mystery ball sale, some wives helped to raise $32,000 for Mary E. Walker House, a Women Veterans' Transitional Residence in Coatesville, Pa. They created Pro-Pack gift packages representing a member of the 2008 Phillies. Each contained personal memorabilia and autographed items including jerseys, baseballs, caps, the player's favorite DVDs, CDs and games.
The Pennsylvania SPCA has long been a pet project of Jennifer and Chase Utley. Jennifer, a volunteer for the organization, along with Lindsay Lidge, Julia Werth, Erin Romero, Michelle Burrell and several other Phillies wives, hosted "Save a Pet at the Park" during a Phillies game in June. Joined by staff of the Pennsylvania SPCA, money was raised for a new dog park through a silent auction, raffle and doggie bag (containing player autographed Mystery Balls) sale. Fans donated pet toys and approximately 15 cats and dogs were adopted.
Jamie Moyer simply never stops giving back. In July 2000, he and wife Karen established the Moyer Foundation, which focuses on helping children in severe distress. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $14 million to support more than 150 non-profit organizations that help children.
Camp Erin is a weekend bereavement camp created by the Foundation to offer comfort to kids grieving the death of a loved one. There are currently 18 Camp Erin locations in 12 different states. The camp is free for the participants.
The Moyers raised more than $400,000 at their second Philadelphia Celebrity Waiters event on June 19, 2008. More than a dozen of Jamie's teammates donned waiter's uniforms and served dinner and poured wine for more than 250 guests at Citizen Bank Park's Diamond Club facility.
Winning the World Series has only raised the profile and all the Phillies' charitable endeavors.
"The exposure of being in the World Series really helped," Jamie Moyer said. "I can't even imagine how many text messages and e-mails the Foundation, Karen and myself received [during the postseason run]. It was a ton. It helped open doors."
It won't end here, either. Sometime in December, members of the organization will likely be doling out a holiday meal at a homeless shelter, and participating in other holiday activities.
"One of the biggest things is our responsibility to give back as an athlete," said Moyer. "This is a huge gift to be able give back to cities in which I have played, as a home and visiting player. I think the cool thing is to see other players getting involved and taking an interest."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.