[UPDATED with Halos Come Through!] Angels and Albert Pujols Blasted for Failing to Help OC Down Syndrome Event
See the update at the end of this post on the Angels coming through for charity event.
ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 5, 2:02 P.M.: Sponsors of an upcoming charity event in Fullerton for children with Down syndrome are taking aim at Anaheim's Angels and superstar first baseman Albert Pujols for being "uncaring."
But the Major League Baseball franchise counters a written denial for contributions of tickets, merchandise or other assistance for the event likely stems from the request's timing.
Janice Briones recently contacted the Weekly about Sunday's planned 1 p.m. event at The Yard in Fullerton to raise funds for the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles and to honor the 1-year-old son of her cousin, who is promoting the affair. Briones has been helping secure sponsors, free entertainment and raffle prizes for the charity event, and she claims that while the Los Angeles Dodgers have donated four ticket vouchers for a game next season, the Angels only sent their regrets in a letter last week.
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*The Las Vegas resident whose family is from Santa Ana says she is so incensed, she has switched her allegiance from her "hometown baseball team" to the denizens of Chavez Ravine. (*Corrected from original version.)
"[T]he LA Angels made it perfectly clear that they do not want to help their community," Briones writes in an email. ". . . [T]hey could not contribute anything (no tickets; not even a hat, baseball, or anything) for this event!"
She wonders, "How much money would the LA Angels have made by offering two tickets to a game in food and merchandise purchases and parking? I would say much more than the cost of two tickets."
Elsewhere in her email, she writes "the most disturbing thing of all was the Pujols [Family] Foundation refusing to participate and saying they couldn't do anything--YET Mr. Pujols has a Down syndrome CHILD!"
Isabella, the daughter of Pujols' wife Deidre from another relationship, has Down syndrome. (The couple have also had three children together.) The Pujols Family Foundation promotes Down syndrome awareness and works to help those with it and their families. Assisting people with other disabilities, life-threatening illnesses and the poor in the slugger's native Dominican Republic are also endeavors of the Christian-based nonprofit.
Tim Mead, the Angels vice president of communications, tells the Weekly that the Pujols Family Foundation presents its own events and does not participate in "one-off" events staged by others. Most have taken place in the greater St. Louis area, because that is where the Future Hall of Famer spent the first half of his career and is raising his family.
In partnership with the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County and the Children's Maritime Foundation, the Pujols Family Foundation hosted about 100 people in the Down syndrome community on the American Pride tall ship in Long Beach on Aug. 4.
But the foundation is starting to get more active in Orange County, and more local events are in the works, according to Mead, noting that alone the nonprofit has contributed millions to assist those with Down syndrome and their families.
The Angels franchise's reputation for charity giving is also well known in Orange County and beyond, added the team spokesman, despite 600 requests a month to contribute and/or participate pouring in, 12 months a year.
To deal with that many requests, "a system has to be in place. . . . It's non-stop," said Mead, explaining the team cannot always just automatically drop game tickets into the mail.
Without knowing the exact particulars of The Yard event request, Mead suspected the timing of the solicitation may have caused it to be filed as a lower priority than those from charity event promoters who contacted the team at least four to six weeks in advance.
That said, Mead did request Briones' contact information so front office officials can find out exactly what happened in this case and whether anything can be done at this late hour. This post will be updated if we learn of any changes before Sunday's event.
Until then, we'll end with Briones' parting shot: "It is a very sad state of mind when professional organizations and their players FORGET and do not care about the public who supports them. Children with Down syndrome have been given a challenge in life but their beauty, passion and love will continue on much longer than many professionals' careers."
UPDATE, SEPT. 5, 3:27 P.M.: Janice Briones just told the Weekly that a "genuinely apologetic" Tim Mead this afternoon explained to her what probably happened with the charity's request to the Angels and that the team "is going to immediately supply a donated item for the auction."
Now go beat those damn A's!
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