Clemente Award nominee using his status to raise money
By Bill Ladson /

WASHINGTON — On the baseball field, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is one of the game’s most dedicated players. In fact, he is the only one on the team to play in every game this season.

Off the field, Zimmerman is dedicated to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the central nervous system. There is a reason Zimmerman is spending many hours trying to get rid of this dreaded disease. His mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with MS 12 years ago.

Once he became a professional baseball player, Zimmerman vowed that he would help find a cure for MS, so he started The ziMS Foundation. Cheryl and Ryan’s father, Keith, play a big role in running the foundation while their son is playing baseball.

Last fall, Ryan had his first golf tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., and it helped raise close to $70,000 to find a cure for MS.

“It’s not just for my mom. It’s for everyone,” Zimmerman said. “There are a lot of diseases out there that people are working real hard to try and get rid of. For me to be able to help with one, I’m lucky enough to be in a position to use my resources to raise awareness. If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t really have as much resources that I have, so it’s nice.”

The foundation is planning on having another golf tournament this fall and a bowling tournament next season. Zimmerman also is looking to have a gala to help raise more money for MS.

“Now that I’m in the position that I’m in, I can do some things to help people who go through the same things me and my brother had to go through. It’s nice to able to help,” he said. “There are so many resources in D.C. — you have so many sports teams and political people. A lot of people want to help, and it’s nice to have the support.”

Roberto Clemente Day

Zimmerman’s work with the foundation is the reason he is a candidate for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972. The winner will be announced during the World Series.

“Awards are nice and everything, but you don’t do this kind of stuff for the awards,” Zimmerman said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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