Jamie Moyer is my hero. The Phillies pitcher remains the only athlete older than me still playing in one of the four major sports in North America, and as long as he keeps throwing, my endless youth will continue on. Okay, that's not entirely true and it's too melodramatic. However, what is really admirable is Moyer's work off the field, which will be his greatest legacy.
Perhaps Moyer's best pitch in 2010 will not take place after pitchers and catchers report next month. It may actually take place the Saturday before the Super Bowl, in Miami, when he will join with celebrity Chef Mario Batali to host a "Super Bowl Super Brunch" at the Viceroy Hotel in South Florida . The event, which will feature Batali cooking up his best while fellow co-chairs Jimmy Fallon, Emeril Lagasse and Jimmy Buffet join in, will benefit The Moyer Foundation's Camp Erin, along with Batali's own Foundation.
Now in its eighth year, Camp Erin is a network of camps for kids ages 6-17 who have lost a loved one. Moyer and his wife Karen began the camps in 2000, when 17 year old Erin Metcalf of Woodinville, Washington, passed away following a long, tough bout with liver cancer. The Moyers had met Erin through the Make-a-Wish Foundation while he was with the Seattle Mariners, and were inspired by her spirit to assist kids and inspire those around her. The camp has captured Erin's spirit of inspiring and assisting others, and now works with young people who have gone through the loss of a parent, guardian or sibling, and are struggling to cope with the grieving process. The first Camp Erin was established in Everett, Washington in 2002, and the weekend experience is designed to help heal, physically, mentally and emotionally, all the needs of the young attendees, and give them coping techniques to help them move on with the business of living. It is now the largest network of bereavement camps in North America.
The Brunch, along with a series of other events the foundation will host throughout the country, will provide the additional necessary funds to assist Moyer in achieving his big picture goal, expanding the experience to all 50 States as soon as possible. Now we all have experienced the loss of a loved one at some point, and those who have lost someone so close at such a young age knows that those scars, no matter how well adjusted one is, can be very deep and take a great deal of time to heal. Without proper care, the emotional wounds can be as deep and as devastating as any physical ones a young person can endure. Often times those scars and that hurting are overlooked by adults, who have to deal with their own grieving process. Moyer's camps make that process easier for all.
It gives pause to adults who may not be able to adjust or deal with the needs of a young person, while it helps young people seek answers for questions in a safe, neutral setting that can be much more nurturing than the environment they are in day to day. Most importantly, it is a well thought out charitable endeavor that fills a void most athletes rarely consider when they look to do their philanthropic work, making the Camp Erin plan one of the most unique in the country. It is one of those programs that is simple, fulfilling and speaks directly to an issue that has touched everyone. While most athletes and celebrities look to touch charitable efforts that are personal to themselves and their experiences, Moyer has chosen to take another path and support and fund a charitable effort that is personal to us all.
Is Jamie Moyer a hero to weekend warriors because he is still throwing at 48? Sure he is. However his most important work will remain his legacy of hope and support he provides to thousands of children through his philanthropy ... work which makes him a star regardless of whether or not he throws another pitch this season. That's what makes him a real hero.
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