I’d like to take a few moments and talk about Tom Glavine, a member of the Atlanta Braves baseball team. He threw his first pitch in 1987, and this past week, his jersey number was retired by his team to honor not only Mr. Glavines many accomplishments in the world of sports, but also his love of the local Atlanta community. Tom isn’t that physically imposing – he’s a normal guy, although a fine athlete of course. He isn’t the fastest player, or the strongest. However, appearances can be deceiving. He rose from being one of the worst players on the Braves lineup to being one of the best. He was the foundation stone of the teams pitching roster last decade, pitching an amazing performance during the 1995 World Series. There is no doubt that he is a fantastic baseball player. What I’d like to talk about, however, is his accomplishments off the field.
It’s unfortunately somewhat rare that a baseball player gives back to his community; many members of the public may not even recognize the name of an otherwise star player. Tom Glavine is a notable exception. He has worked night and day to help support children’s charities in the Atlanta area.
In 2005, Tom Glavine was a member of the “Operation Backpack” program, which helped to give over 6000 homeless children backpacks full of school supplies, so that the children could go to school prepared for the year. Two years later, he sold some of his own personal property to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, all of which he donated to support childhood cancer research in the Atlanta area; he also produced a public service announcement that year urging support for the cause. A year later (in 1998), he sponsored a wine for a childhood cancer charity, with the profits going to the children’s families to help them through difficult times.
For almost twenty years now, Tom has been a spokesperson for the Georgia Transplant Foundations Atlanta branch, hosting an annual “Spring Training” to raise money for transplant candidates. To date more than four million dollars have been raised – valuable funds that make it possible for children with cancer to receive the care they so desparately need.
In partial recognition of his accomplishments, Gwinett county (in which Atlanta partially resides) inducted Tom into their Hall of Fame. During the ceremony Tom signed autographs for adoring fans and gave talks urging families to educate their children about safety and crime prevention.
In today’s society where athletes are sometimes portrayed as muscle-bound thugs, Tom Glavin stands out as a true gentlemen. He was recently inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame, and I can think of no one more worthy of this honor. We need five thousand more athletes just like him, and I am proud that he is a resident of my home town of Atlanta.
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