Pittsburgh Pirates fans have a new way to help outfielder Gregory Polanco “Strike Out Poverty” and get a limited edition t-shirt at the same time.
A few months ago, we told you about Gregory Polanco’s charitable endeavor to help bring basic resources to nine vulnerable communities in his native Dominican Republic. Now, Pittsburgh Pirates fans have a way to lend a hand to the cause by purchasing a black and gold KPoverty shirt offered exclusively through Athletes Brand.
The shirts are the newest designs offered throughout the year by the company, which works to help athletes make a difference for causes important to them, explained CEO of Athletes Brand Kyle Mauch. All proceeds raised from purchase of these shirts go to Striking Out Poverty.
While Athletes Brand works with individual athletes to create shirt campaigns tailored to their specific causes, sometimes, they launch efforts that are league-wide, Mauch said. Such is the case with the KPoverty shirts. Currently, there is at least one player representing the shirt from every team and the company plans to release a shirt in team colors for all 30 teams.
“What’s cool is that many of the players who have decided to rep the shirt in their team colors actually have no tie to the Dominican Republic other than their teammates and opponents,” he said.
A Shared Passion
Mauch met members of the Food for the Hungry team, which runs the Striking Out Poverty campaign, at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville. But he didn’t really understand the passion the group has for their cause, which is to provide food and basic necessities to impoverished areas throughout the world, until he visited the Dominican Republic last winter.
“Meeting the people impacted, the people impacting, seeing the circumstances, experiencing the culture, bringing smiles to others and having others bringing smiles to you….It’s a whirlwind of happiness, frustration, sadness, excitement and curiosity rolled into one two-day trip,” he recalled.
He met Polanco on that trip in a very memorable way.
He was in the community of Camaron with the Food for the Hungry team, New York Yankees first baseman Rob Refsnyder and about 60 kids. They were literally on a baseball field, getting ready to play a game. They were expecting other MLB players to join them, but tragedy threatened to keep them away.
“Then two custom Range Rovers and a custom Jeep Rubicon came rolling through the outfield grass blaring Future from their stereos,” he said. In the cars were Polanco, his Pittsburgh Pirates teammate Starling Marte and Kansas City Royals outfielder Moises Sierra. “It was as big of a big league thing you’ll ever see, but it brought smiles to those kids’ faces that I’ll never forget.”
Here’s what people need to know about that moment: the three men had driven there straight from Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura‘s funeral.
“Those guys attended the funeral, then drove four hours to come play with those kids because they wanted to – and didn’t want to let the kids down,” Mauch said. “That says something about who those individuals are.”
Using Baseball to Restore Hope and Save Lives
His visit to the Dominican Republic impressed upon him how great the need is for items we take for granted, like food and clean drinking water. It also illustrated something else, that sport really can impact people in a positive way. “It shows you how easy it is to change a life,” he said.
That’s something Mauch knows a little about. An athlete, he founded his company while in college struggling through rehab for a back injury. “I went through some tough times that led me to realize that there was more to life than just baseball,” he said. “This realization spurred the thought of ‘If I died today, all that I’d ever accomplished was athletics.'”
So he set out to figure out how he could be more than “just a blip that took up space without improving the space that I’m in.”
Drawing on his experiences, he created the company, which provides athletes with a platform to make a real difference for their chosen causes beyond just writing a check. He began by reaching out to players he played with and against and grew the brand from there. To date, Athletes Brand works with over 700 professional athletes.
Get Your KPoverty Shirt Today!
So far, 40 professional baseball players are on board to represent Striking Out Poverty shirts for their teams.
Athletes Brand is rolling out the shirts in stages throughout the first half of the season. They’re available for two weeks following their introduction, so act fast Pirates fans! Grab your KPoverty shirt by visiting this special site through Athletes Brand.
To learn more about Striking Out Poverty, visit them online at www.strikingoutpoverty.com.
Cover image courtesy Daniel C. White/Food for the Hungry
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