For the Quad Cities River Bandits, the baseball season starts in April and winds down in September. The season of giving, however, lasts all year long.
As 2010 looms just a calendar-flip away, the River Bandits are proud to reflect on a year in which the team was directly responsible for putting $145,470 into the Quad Cities community in 2009. From donated goods and tickets to fundraising efforts and charitable partnerships, the team was able to help a variety of groups and causes throughout the year. The River Bandits also created the Keith Lucier Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will give away a scholarship covering the entire first year’s tuition at the University of Iowa for one lucky resident of the Quad City Area, and were heavily involved in community activities, donating hundreds of hours of labor into the Quad Cities in addition to having a significant monetary impact.
“We strive to be an integral part of the Quad Cities, and part of that means giving back to our friends, fans and neighbors,” said owner Dave Heller. “The River Bandits want to do our part to enhance the quality of life in the Quad Cities and make it an even better place to live, work and raise a family. This community has been so supportive of us; we want to be generous in our support of it. That means donating our money, donating our time, donating items to help others raise money, raising money ourselves for area charities, and partnering with great companies like Modern Woodmen of America and Genesis Health System to make a real difference in the lives of Quad Cities families.”
The River Bandits proactive philosophy of investing in the Quad Cities is what led to the six-figure impact in the community. The River Bandits Book Buddies program included nearly 60 schools and 14,000 students in its eighth year, encouraging youth reading and donating $56,825 worth of tickets to area youngsters. Merchandise, tickets and other items contributed to a total value of $38,917 that was handed out in response to widespread donation requests. Another $37,590 was paid out to various non-profit and community groups that worked in the ballpark to raise funds or participated in the FUNdraising ticket-selling program, while $7,070 was raised through in-game contests and fan-generated donations.
A pair of jersey auctions over the course of the 2009 season raised $2,346 for the Vera French Foundation and another $1,445 for Genesis Health System’s Flu Free Quad Cities program. The frequent post-game Tennis Ball Toss brought in $5,068 that was split among 16 different charities over the course of the season.
Monetary donations and fundraising were just the tip of the iceberg. In June, the River Bandits announced the formation of the Keith Lucier Memorial Scholarship that serves the dual purpose of honoring a former employee and paying for a full year of tuition to an incoming freshman at the University of Iowa. Modern Woodmen Park also played host to the Challenger Little League for their tournament in early September, a truly inspirational event that has become an annual fixture.
Between Rascal the River Bandit, Bandits’ staff members and team players, more than 120 hours were spent in the community visiting schools, libraries and community centers. Members of the front office staff are heavily involved in the community, participating in programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters Lunch Buddies, Junior Achievement, Pups Assisting with the Disabled, World Relief and Achieve Quad Cities. Vice President and General Manager Kirk Goodman sits on the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley and Assistant General Manager Stefanie Brown is a member of the board for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The growing River Bandits Speakers Bureau is designed to provide speakers at no cost to community groups, schools, businesses and other groups throughout the Quad Cities, in part to help educate youth on potential careers in the sports industry.
“One of our goals as an organization is to be as visible as possible in our community,” said Vice President and General Manager Kirk Goodman. “Our front office staff is made up of great people that want to make a difference and have the ambition to act on that impulse. Every dollar we raise stays right here in our community, which is a promise our ownership made to the Quad Cities from the very start. We also have a full-time position dedicated to represent the River Bandits in relationships with local charitable organizations. Community involvement is something we take great pride in, and at the end of the day it is very satisfying to reflect on the positive impact the River Bandits make throughout the Quad Cities.”