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Charitable Initiatives


Cougars players and coaches extended their presence with numerous community appearances this season,
including a visit by the entire team and field staff to Marklund in Geneva on June 2.
 

The Kane County Cougars organization strives to maintain their commitment to serving communities throughout Chicagoland, and the 2016 season of Cougars baseball included numerous examples of that philosophy.

Ozzie's Reading Club. Now in its third decade, the Cougars' reading program included 140,000 students from 400 schools who improved their reading skills through Ozzie's Reading Club in 2016. Regarded as one of the most successful and rewarding reading incentive programs in the Chicagoland area, Ozzie's Reading Club allows teachers and reading specialists to set goals for students at different grade levels. Students receive rewards for reading a certain number of books or pages, with prizes awarded as they read their way to first base, second base, third base and finally, to home plate. Students hitting a home run received a ticket to a Cougars game, food voucher and a Cougars drawstring bag. Graduates were also recognized in a pre-game parade on the field. Ozzie's Reading Club sponsors in 2016 were Fifth Third Bank, The Pride Stores, Oberweis and Cantigny.

Military Recognition. The Cougars hosted a Military Appreciation Night on July 2 which included complimentary tickets for servicemen and women along with their families, a pre-game large American flag unfurling on the field, a presence by numerous military groups, appearance by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and First Lady Diana Rauner, as well as the unveiling of the first ever Military Honor Photo Jersey featuring military portraits of both former and active-duty service members. A portion of the proceeds from the game worn jersey silent auction held throughout the night benefitted the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans located in Wheaton, Ill. The Cougars also held a partnership with Veteran Tickets Foundation in which the Cougars organization donated 12 tickets for each Thursday-Sunday game during the 2016 season. Active military and their families received complimentary admission at all games this past season.

Hometown Heroes. The Cougars welcomed both active duty and retired military personnel to be recognized as hometown heroes during the season. These individuals, along with their families, were treated to a Cougars game with complimentary tickets and were recognized on the field during games for their service to our country.

Military Homecoming Surprise. Easily one of the best highlights from the 2016 season took place on July 14 as the Cougars assisted a local military hero in reuniting with her three children. Technical Sgt. Ashley Reese surprised her three children Luke, Micah and Leia following a seven-month deployment in Qatar. Luke and Micah each threw out a first pitch before the game followed by Ashley coming up the steps of the Cougars dugout to reveal that she had returned home. The special moment brought the more than 8,800 fans in attendance to their feet, giving the family a standing ovation and Ashley an extra special welcome home. 

Cougars In The Community. When the 2016 calendar year closes, Ozzie will have visited nearly 100 events throughout Chicagoland including hospitals, schools and festivals. Cougars' players and coaches extended their presence with numerous community appearances this season as well, including a visit by the entire team and field staff to Marklund in Geneva on June 2. Cougars' staff continue to be active in the community through volunteer work, speaking engagements and community outreach such as distributing Thanksgiving turkeys at the Tri-Cities Salvation Army in St. Charles.

Summer Reading Program. Community libraries in Geneva and surrounding towns took part in this year's summer library reading programs, which rewarded children with tickets for their summer reading accomplishments.

Coaches Clinic. This past February, the Cougars hosted a coaches clinic at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Featuring professional instruction from coaches with the Cougars and Arizona Diamondbacks, the clinic welcomed area youth coaches to learn valuable pointers in specific areas of on-field execution, practice techniques and coaching style.

Donations. Again this season, the Cougars assisted non-profit organizations including churches, schools, outing groups and others with charitable donations for fundraising events. When the 2016 calendar year closes, the Cougars will have assisted hundreds of non-profit organizations through donations of ticket vouchers, memorabilia and gift certificates. Those interested in soliciting a donation from the Cougars organization are encouraged to visit the "Community" page at kccougars.com to learn more.

Scout Nights. The Cougars welcomed more than 1,200 scouts and their families to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for Memorial Day weekend campouts. In addition to enjoying a Cougars game, campers spent the night at the ballpark and enjoyed a hot breakfast the following morning. Scouts also earned a badge, and the program has grown tremendously over the years.

Monthly Charity Initiatives. During the 2016 season, the Cougars raised money through the 50/50 raffle, sponsored by Rush Copley. The Cougars donated more than $11,800 from 50/50 proceeds to several community-centered causes during the 2016 season through their monthly charity initiatives: Hessed House Aurora (April/May), West Suburban Community Pantry (June), People's Resource Center-DuPage County (July) and Anderson Animal Shelter (August/September).

Pitch In For Charity: The Cougars combined with Acres Group for the Pitch in for Charity tennis ball promotion in 2016. Fans purchased numbered tennis balls and attempted to land them on an on-field target following select Cougars games. A portion of proceeds was donated to YWCA Victim Support Services.

Ozzie's Home Run and Walk 5K. The Cougars' 5K charity run and walk, held in late May, was a charitable event in which a portion of race proceeds benefited the "Ozzie's Scholars" reading scholarship program. More than 300 participants took part in the event, which included a post-race brat and beer or soda at the finish for participants, along with a high-five on the field from Ozzie T. Cougar at the home plate finish line.

High School Sports Business Seminars. This spring, the Cougars welcomed nearly 1,000 high school students to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for a series of high school sports business seminars. Students were able to learn more about the business side of working in sports, along with exploring career opportunities in the field.

Ozzie's Scholars. The Cougars awarded scholarships to both current and former members of Ozzie's Reading Club. Applicants were asked to describe how their involvement with Ozzie's Reading Club served as a positive influence in their daily lives. Winners and their families were invited to a Cougars game and recognized in a pre-game ceremony on the field.

Legacy Brick Program. In the fall of 2014, the Cougars unveiled a commemorative legacy brick program as fans could purchase a custom brick etched with a special message along with their name or the name of a family member or friend. These bricks have been and will continue to be permanently displayed outside Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. During the summer of 2015, the Cougars welcomed United States Army veteran Joseph Daniels, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Kandahar, Afghanistan with the 2nd Infantry Division. Daniels represented the Wounded Warrior Project, who received a portion of the legacy brick program proceeds.