Grand Rapids, MI (May 24, 2016) – The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is proud to announce it has teamed up again with the West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank, Meijer, and Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation for its annual Equipment Drive for the Inner-City Youth Baseball League. The campaign will kick-off at a press conference held at Ted Rasberry Field on May 25 at 2:00 pm. There will also be a ribbon cutting for the newly renovated Ted Rasberry Field, provided through a $54,560 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund.

“Ted Rasberry Field will help us expand the Y’s Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball program and serve the community in a more comprehensive way,” added Pope, “Because of the generous support of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and our sponsors the West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank, and Meijer, this season is sure to be our best one yet!”

Who: YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank, Meijer & Grand Rapid Parks and Recreation
What: Ted Rasberry Field Ribbon Cutting and Annual Equipment Drive Kick-Off
When: Wednesday, May 25th at 2:00 pm
Where: Ted Rasberry Field – 1010 Sheldon Ave. SE Grand Rapids, MI 49507

Press Conference Speakers:

  • Lew Chamberlin, Managing Partner and CEO, West Michigan Whitecaps
  • John Zimmerman, Senior Vice President, Affiliate Market Director, Fifth Third Bank
  • Cathy Bradley, Executive Director, Baseball Tomorrow Fund
  • Johnathan Pope, Executive Director, David D. Hunting YMCA
  • Cathy Cooper, Senior Director of Community Partnerships and Giving, Meijer
  • Minnie Forbes, Owner of the Detroit Stars and Niece of Ted Rasberry

The Equipment Drive, which will run from May 25th through June 9th, collects new or gently used baseball and softball equipment for the YMCA Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball (ICYBS) program. Anyone who donates a piece of gently used equipment (youth batting helmets, youth bats, baseballs, etc.) receives four lawn tickets to a 2016 West Michigan Whitecaps’ home game, a voucher for Wendy’s, and one free guest pass to the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.

Drop off youth baseball/softball equipment at any Grand Rapids area Fifth Third Bank branch, Fifth Third Ballpark weekdays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm or during any home game, and at any of the following YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids locations:

  • David D. Hunting YMCA, 475 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids
  • Lowell YMCA, 1335 W. Main St., Lowell
  • Spartan Stores YMCA, 5722 Metro Way, Wyoming
  •  Mary Free Bed YMCA, 5500 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids
  • Visser Family YMCA, 3540 Fairlanes Ave. SW, Grandville
  • Wolverine Worldwide Family YMCA, 6555 Jupiter Ave. NE, Belmont

Necessary funding and equipment are provided by the program’s sponsors: West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank, Meijer, and the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. For more information on the Equipment Drive or the Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball Program, contact the Y at 616.855.9622.

The Inner-City Baseball/Softball program is a free program for inner-city youth ages 6-14 that holds games at eight neighborhood parks—Riverside Park, Richmond Park, Garfield Park, Aberdeen Park, Ted Rasberry Field, Plaster Creek Park, Sibley Field, and Martin Luther King Park. The program has grown from 384 children in its first year to over 1,100 participants in 2015. Along with the children, the program saw over 130 coaches volunteer their time.

“We’ve set a goal of collecting 500 pieces of equipment this year,” stated Johnathan Pope, Executive Director of the David D. Hunting YMCA. “Every child deserves the opportunity to participate and the Equipment Drive allows for this opportunity.”

The league provides inner-city youth with a safe, structured activity, positive values, and opportunities to build self-esteem and self-confidence. To encourage families and neighbors to participate in the program, games are played at neighborhood ballparks, provided by the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department.