Rays and Kaboom! Build Another Safe Tampa Bay Playground

 

kaboom.jpg

Photo by TBO.com 

It has been almost a month since I put down my flat-head screwdriver and my open-ended 5/8 wrench after the completion of another great playground in South St. Petersburg, just a few miles from Tropicana Field. Does it really feel like a month since the Tampa Bay Rays staff, players and even their owner Stuart Sternberg spent a blustery afternoon back on December 18,2010 building another Kaboom! inspired safe playground from drawings and designs submitted by local children back in October, 2010.

It was really inspiring to the tenth degree to see employees of the Rays ECOT organization again bring their tool belts and construct not the first, but the second Tampa Bay regional playground in the last year and a half. But even more impressive is the common fact that the Rays are the only current Major League Baseball team to construct a Kaboom! Playground……….. so far.

Over 200 volunteers from the 2010 American League East Champion Rays along with members of the James B. Sanderlin Family Center and a large assortment of local community volunteers. Everyone was eager, with hammer in hand to began the construction after the short Kick-off ceremony and volunteer deployment. But this was an event I did not take my camera to as it was for the kids.

This new playground that we lifted, nailed, bolted and sweat into place will replace an older aging playground that will give over 300 community kids a safe place to play. More exciting is that the playground’s design was taken from drawings and designs submitted by the same local children who attend events at the James Sanderlin Center on a daily basis.

It was great to see the Rays “Three Amigos”, Sternberg, Rays VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and Rays President Matt Silverman hoisting lumber and plastic pieces into place along with their fellow employees and staff. Says a lot about the Rays internal community within the Trop that so many Rays employees devoted their time and efforts to such a great cause.

And for some of the Rays ECOT organization, it was a second step into the playground storm as their initial hammer time was back in 2009 when the Rays built another Kaboom! System in Riverview, Florida, about 25 miles to the East. That day’s build was one of the over 180 Kaboom! playgrounds that will be built in the United States in 2011. Simply put, Kaboom! Hopes that in the future it can put a great place to play within walking distances of every child in America.

It was a great experience seeing over 43,740 square feet of safety surfacing moving in unison by the volunteers and Rays that day. The bright colors of the equipment meshed in well with the mission of providing a safe and sturdy for every child in this South St. Petersburg community to enjoy this park for a long, long time. I want to again commend the Rays and their employees who took the time out of their busy off season to come out and help this region of St. Pete become safer and a new area of fun for kids of all ages.

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Photo by TBO.com

Sometimes we focus too much on what is happening within the confines of our favorite teams to not always look at some of the great things done in the off season and during the regular season by our MLB team. From the top to the bottom, on this day Rays fans, employees and hundreds of tired volunteers stood and watched the ribbon-cutting and the onslaught of kids personally checking out our work. Even Rays Manager Joe Maddon got into the fray picking up a drill and hammer to help build a better playing environment.

Makes me smile inside to see this team give like this to their local communities. With so much being written about the dark-side of sports or even an ensuing firestorm going back and forth about a future home for the Rays. It was great to see everyone involved come together and mesh under a common goal.

The sore muscles and aches seemed to melt away instantly after seeing the first kid’s laughter and smile while exploring his new and exciting playground kingdom.

If you want to know more about Kaboom! And their mission, feel free to click the link and see for yourself what you can do to help bring a safer playground environment for children in your own community. Can’t wait to help with the next one!

 

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12 Comments

Do you get your pictures from the internet or do you take them?

BaseballParks,
I actually do both.
I take my own photos (most of the time), but if I do use a obtained photo, I try and list the photographer or the agency underneath it. The photos from this event were obtained from the St. Petersburg Times/ TBO.com.
I did not take my camera with me that day since I went as a volunteer and did not want to stop, go to the car and get a camera and break the work flow.
During the season, 75% of the photos I take are from my own camera lens.

Rays Renegade
http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

That’s great! I would love to see the MLB Network have a weekly special focusing on the charity work that different clubs do. I loved the fact that local kids got to submit their own designs too.

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Ron,
That is something I loved about it too.
The fact that kids got to design it and add their own little nuances and items that they can point to and telltheir friends they asked for….but then again, it was fun to build it no matter how it turned out.
Personally, as a kid I would have wanted two pirate ships that you could do play battles and crossa bridge to the opposite ship….But then I am a renegade….argggg!

Rays Renegade
http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Great program on the part of the Rays. I love when teams – and MLB – do outreach specifically designed for kids who are, after all, the future of the sport.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
It ia amazing the things this generation have done that the past generations might have wished they too had contributed…….Like the Kaboom! playgrounds.
When I played ball community relations and services were a speck of dust compared to the concentrated effort and focus of today’s athletes.
Sure we did things outside the realm of the game that did not get press, but there were somany things we could have done if we had the focus and tenacity of so many of the MLB team’s charitable arms possess today.

Rays Renegade
http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

What a cool program! Kudos for being a part of it!
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Great program. I know MLB has done some outreach with programs like R.B.I., but it’s nice to see them do other things that help local communities.
http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

Jeff,
I loved doing it. Since I am not working it makes perfect sense (to me) to give back in some way to keep activeand not just sit on the couch like a lump of meat.
Plus you get to meet a lot of great people within the Rays organization.
Like I said in the lastline, it is the smile and giggle from the kids as they climb and explore the structure that makes all the pains, scraps and soreness just seem to magically melt away.

Rays Renegade
http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Wrigley,
I also love it when MLB and their teams concentrate on the younger fans who will be the people who eventually decide the future fate of your local ball club.
That is why I volunteer for items like this and a few of the players charity events because it is another small piece of myself that I can give back, and also have a great time contributing to the future movers and shakers of this country.

Rays Renegade
http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

ok I just want to know because i’ve been debating whether to get them off the internet of not.
baseballPARKS

BaseballParks,

There are a lot of different views on this, but I like to give the photographer a credit at the lef-hand bottom under the photo.
If there is no photo credit on my photos, it was a photo taken by me personally, so I do not credit myself
No self promotion unless it is in the assorted words (lol).
I do it as a sign of respect for the photographers,but other still see it as “stealing” even with the acknowledgment.
Double-edged sword.

Rays Renegade
http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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