By Brian McClintock; Director of Media Relations; 570-326-1921 ext. 2252; firstname.lastname@example.org
August 5, 2013
When Keith and Cheryl Zimmerman decided to move with their two boys, Ryan and Shawn, to Virginia Beach, Va., in 1991, it didn’t take them long to find the local Little League®.
“We never forced our boys to play sports, but Ryan was interested in playing baseball,” said Mr. Zimmerman. “The local Little League was a good program, and the logical first step. It gave Ryan an opportunity to play organized ball, and he sort of dominated.”
Ryan Zimmerman’s talents were discovered early in his Little League career, and he continued to develop his baseball skills at Kellam High School and then at the University of Virginia. In 2004, Mr. Zimmerman was the starting third baseman on the USA Baseball National Team that won the gold medal at the World University Baseball Championship. In 2005, the Washington Nationals made him the fourth overall selection in the Major League Baseball Draft. Since then, the 28-year-old has become the face of the Nationals’ organization. But it’s his baseball roots from his days in Virginia Beach Little League that started Ryan’s baseball success, and his parents have been with him all the way.
“We were just your every-day Little League parents, helping out where and when we could,” says Mr. Zimmerman, a retired health club industry professional.
The Zimmermans have transitioned from a Little League family into a Major League Baseball family with a philanthropic mission. And Little League is honored to recognize Keith and Cheryl Zimmerman as the 2013 George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year.
“Our Little League parents are vital to our organization and help to ensure that all Little Leaguers have a wonderful experience on the field and off,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League Baseball and Softball President and CEO. “We are proud to thank all of our Little League parents by recognizing the accomplishments of Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman. Their dedication over the years to their children, and the family’s passion for helping others in working for a cure for Multiple Sclerosis is an inspiration in many ways.”
In 1995, Mrs. Zimmerman, a retired special education teacher, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and the entire family has adopted the cause to work for a cure and help families with the autoimmune disease.
“Ryan was home during the 2006 All-Star break, and we were sitting around as a family watching the game,” said Mr. Zimmerman. “We all sort of came to the idea that we should start a foundation.”
“We were just your every-day Little League parents, helping out where and when we could,” said Mr. Zimmerman.
What came from that All-Star break idea was the ziMS Foundation, which is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of MS by funding comprehensive support and educational programs. In the fall of 2012, the foundation broke the $1,000,000-mark in philanthropic giving.
“The foundation is there to help people who are battling MS and to try to find a cure,” said Mr. Zimmerman. “We’re doing everything we can from giving financial assistance to families, making sure they can keep their air conditioner running to donating money to medical research. It’s a labor of love and a cause that is near and dear to our hearts.”
Since 1980, this award has gone to the parents of a Major League Baseball player who were actively involved in their son’s Little League experience. The award is much more than recognizing one set of parents annually. The Parents of the Year Award is designed to be a symbolic recognition of the millions of mothers and fathers who, each year, respond to the call of parental duty and help provide a wholesome healthy arena for leadership training for the children of their respective communities.
The award is named for former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, who volunteered during their children’s early years in Texas, and continue to support Little League today.
“It’s quite an honor to receive this year’s Parents of the Year Award from Little League,” said Mr. Zimmerman. “It’s nice to be recognized along with Ryan, who has gone on to have a big time job with baseball and is such a big part of our foundation.”
The Zimmermans will be recognized at a ceremony prior to the United States Championship game at the 67th Little League Baseball World Series, which begins on Thursday, Aug. 15 in South Williamsport, Pa., with the Championship Game scheduled for 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 25. The Little League Awards Breakfast will be held on Thursday, Aug. 22. For more information on the Series and to follow the action live, visit llbws.org