“The hardest thing, believe it or not, is to figure out how to give all the money away that we’ve raised,” stated Ryan Zimmerman. “We’ve worked hard and people give their hard earned money to us and we just don’t want to give it away. We’ve built a mutual trust. And we feel like we’ve found a good group of four or five organizations that deserve to get the money and we are going to do the right thing with it.”
Our Washington Nationals star player was standing on the red carpet next to his parents, Cheryl & Keith, just outside the PNC Diamond Club at Nationals Park talking about their charitable organization. For the second year in row, the ziMS Foundation–dedicated to finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, was holding their Washington, D.C. signature event–“A Night At The Park”. As many Nats Fans are aware, Ryan’s family oriented effort is personal in nature as Cheryl was diagnosed with MS in 1995. Since 2006, the ziMS Foundation has awarded over $500,000 to needy organizations. Non-profit groups that are dedicated to not only finding a cure for MS but for the treatment, support and the building of educational programs necessary for inflicted families.
Ryan Zimmerman: “Our main benefactor is the Neurology Department at the University of Virginia. We’ve given them over $280,000 now. They’ve become, in essence, our main partner. They are one of, if not, the top clinic in the country involving MS–whether it’s for finding a cure or developing new medicine to help cope with the disease. Back closer to home (in Virginia Beach, Virginia), we’ve given almost $150,000 to the local chapter (MS Society of Hampton Roads). They’ve been instrumental with my mom from the beginning. And in the past couple of years, they’ve organized a few getaways for those with MS. But it’s just nice to have someone at home to help.”
|Gar’s Mikey Mo’ Stance|
|With Gar Ryness-The Batting Stance Guy|
Approximately 1000 tickets were sold for last night’s 2nd Annual Event at Nationals Park. Magician David Blaine returned to give a special performance for VIP Ticket Holders in the PNC Diamond Club. Country Music Star Rodney Atkins performed on the temporary stage placed overtop the Presidents Club Seats and The Batting Stance Guy, Gar Ryness (a funny, funny man), was the Master Of Ceremonies.
“Logistically, we learned a lot from the first year. We’ve moved the VIP Room up (from Presidents Club to the PNC Diamond Club) so the two groups (VIPs & General Admission) can really interact in a way that wasn’t possible last year,” stated Brodie Van Wagenen (Ryan’s Agent from CAA Sports) before the event began. Last year, it was isolated for both groups. We are expecting a much smoother night and double the amount of guest from last year. In fact, we’ve got 14 corporate sponsors–up from the seven from last year. It’s a nice step forward.”
A silent auction was set up along the main concourse, 1st Base Side, of Nationals Park. CCA Sports not only lined up charity items from Ryan Zimmerman and his Washington Nationals teammates, but also a variety of sport and entertainment memorabilia ranging from basketball to The Beatles to the glamor of Hollywood. Also on hand in support of the ziMS Foundation were quite a few of Ryan’s Washington Nationals teammates and coaches. Over the course of the evening, we encountered Rick Eckstein, Jim Lett, Trent Jewett, Jayson Werth, Michael Morse, Danny Espinosa, Adam LaRoche, Alex Cora, Roger Bernadina, Laynce Nix, Brian Bixler, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Drew Storen, Collin Balester, Todd Coffey, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, Jason Marquis and Ryan Mattheus.
During the live auction of “A Night At The Park” attendees had the opportunity to bid on a Fighter Pilot Experience (Top Gun Flight Training), VIP Trip to the 2012 Masters, VIP Trip to the 2012 Grammy Awards, a 2011 US Open Tennis Package, a 2011 VIP MLB All-Star Game Package and Private Visit with Ryan Zimmerman (with 15 tickets included) for a suite at Nationals Park for a mutually agreed upon Nats game in 2012. Over $63,000 was raised during the Live Auction after two bidders in hot pursuit of the Grammy Awards Show package both were granted as winners when their bids reached $15,000 apiece. The ziMS Foundation goal for “A Night At The Park” 2011, including silent auction, ticket sales and corporate sponsorship was $200,000.
“In each of these fundraisers,” continued Van Wagenen, “the money is being put directly back into these communities. That’s why this event is so important. And that’s why having the corporate community show such an overwhelming support is so important for our success in being able to raise some serious money.” Last night, The National Capital Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society received a check from the ziMS Foundation for $35,000. And Dream Makers, a Washington D.C. area non-profit committed to supporting and empowering children whose parents have MS was granted $25,000. “And I think it’s this recognition by others of Ryan’s efforts reflecting dollars back into local D.C. Charities that is getting the corporate community to recognize what’s going on here and getting them to come out to support their own within their own town,” concluded Van Wagenen.
“Like in any other venture, you make strides every day,” says Ryan Zimmerman. “The more money these groups get, the more research they can do. It’s a day-to-day thing, like it is with the actual disease. So just like everyone else involved, we hold out hope and continue to do what we have to do to help find a cure. In fact, It’s amazing (how far the ziMS Foundation has come) because when you start something, you don’t even know how much it will grow. And how quickly things develop. We’ve given away more than $500,000 in less than six years. Those first couple of years we were just figuring it all out. Now, were hoping to take this to the next level and make it very, very special.”
Remember, the entire ziMS Foundation is a volunteer organization run by Ryan, his parents Cheryl & Keith, brother Shawn, with the help of many family friends in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
P.S.–Ryan also mentioned last night that the annual ziMS Foundation Golf Tournament has maxed out. “Unless we get another 18 holes we are in trouble,” he joked. “We are proud though how that event has gotten better and better each year to where we have the Gala on Friday night–which basically runs like clockwork now. It’s become a fun event for us back home. Golf attached to a charity fundraiser like this, we’ve found–is a great time!!
P.P.S–Odd Ball Auction Item of the night: Baseball Bat signed by Pete Rose stating: “I am sorry I bet on baseball.”
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