While the sound of bats cracking and the scent of hot dogs grilling may make Charleston RiverDogs fans smile while at The Joe, those same fans have even more of a reason to support the franchise while fancying even bigger smiles when the RiverDogs engage in any of their many community service activities,
Because of the organization’s positive impact in the community, the RiverDogs will be the 2010 recipient of the Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist for the Charleston Region Award, as provided by the Charleston Regional Business Journal.
The citation will be presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals on National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 18 at the Charleston Marriot on Lockwood Blvd. with RiverDogs team president Mike Veeck accepting the award on the team’s behalf.
“We, at the RiverDogs, do things for the right reasons and our involvement in the local community is the right thing to do,” said RiverDogs general manager Dave Echols, who will be at the event. “We are constantly reminded by the first part of our name that Charleston as a community is important to us, and we keep that in the forefront of our minds every day. We’re active in the area for a multitude of reasons; the primary being that we are positioned to help and at the end of the day, we do.”
In their most recent issue, the Charleston Regional Business Journal cites the many involvements to the community that the RiverDogs involve themselves in throughout the calendar year. When not in season, the administrative staff closes the office for a day and, as a group, donates time and energy to a worthy cause, like Habitat for Humanity.
MUSC’s Storm Eye Institute is the RiverDogs’ primary charity, due in part to Veeck’s daughter, Rebecca, suffering from a retinitis pigmentosa, a visionary disorder that left the personable teenager legally blind. However, not all of the club’s efforts are devoted toward fighting blindness.
The RiverDogs, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, are deeply involved with the RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) and the Boys & Girls Club by providing assistance with equipment and travel, while team members help with practices.
Additionally, the organization made a huge commitment to Charleston County Schools. They helped create a reading and fitness program for third graders, and participate in a sports and entertainment academy in the high schools to expose students to the business side of sports.
And during the season, each Monday night’s home game is appropriately billed as “Dogs with a Cause Night” and is devoted to a local non-profit organization as the group is positioned to share its mission with fans.
“The idea is that if you are interacting with the community and giving back, you will feel good, and in ways you are able to be an overall more well-rounded and happier person. And that will translate in the workplace,” Echols said.
“We let them choose what’s near and dear to their hearts,” he added. “We have 15-to-20 full-time staff, so that’s 15-to-20 different organizations that are receiving help from the RiverDogs.”
Fans share their valuable time during the season with the RiverDogs, so it is only fitting that the RiverDogs return that time in various charitable efforts to maximize the potential of community involvement.
And with the club’s “Be Your Own Fan” marketing initiative, the off-season contributions by the organization gives citizens another reason to be a RiverDogs fan.