04/11/2013 11:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Inspired by Hope

Something remarkable started the moment my wife, Ellen, and I first met Hope on a ministry trip to Zambia four years ago. Our hearts were instantly drawn to a young girl whose life had been challenged by the trials of poverty, hunger and disease. Yet she wasn't just a face in the crowd -- the kind you see in magazine articles talking about the depravity of Africa. She represented something so much bigger. We knew that we would never be the same.

Upon returning home to the States, thoughts of Hope lingered in our minds. We had to do something -- even something small, but something that mattered. Out of a friendship with Hope and a desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, we founded Kershaw's Challenge. It started with a simple set of ideals -- a desire to help children like Hope and a passion to use our God-given gifts to do something great. It has grown from there to a wonderful network of caring individuals and ministries all motivated by giving back to underserved communities both domestically and abroad.

This 2013 season, I am launching my platform #Pitching4Purpose. Each pitch I throw is fueled not just by my competitive nature but also by the knowledge that I'm using my platform as a baseball player to achieve something greater than myself. When I step out onto the mound, I'm thinking of Hope and her friends and all of the other individuals whose lives we can improve. By pledging a donation for each of my strikeouts, I am able to connect my love of baseball to my goal of giving back.

We are excited to invite others to participate in this campaign or to create personal challenges of their own to make an impact. For many reasons, we believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. Giving back to those in need is part of that responsibility. Our platform of baseball is certainly a blessing. But it doesn't need to stop on the pitching mound. It can transcend those boundaries and make widespread impact elsewhere. So now, caring for the needs of others is something that is built into every day and everything that we do.

Kershaw's Challenge will be partnering with three incredible organizations this season: Arise Africa in Zambia, Mercy Street Ministries in Dallas, and ShareFest in Los Angeles. All three ministries will be beneficiaries of the money we raise. Our efforts would be not be possible without the partnership of many. We are humbled by the involvement of many people nationwide who have joined this cause. Thank you for coming along for the journey!

With the help of so many committed to the cause, Arise Home -- a home for vulnerable and at-risk children in the middle of Zambia -- now stands proudly in the heart of Lusaka. Hope was one of the first eight children to move in and finally have a place to call home. We were able to visit the completed home around the 40th anniversary of legendary MLB player and humanitarian Roberto Clemente's death. Inspired by his legacy and motivated by the ideals for which he stood, it made the opening of the home even more meaningful. It was remarkable to see the efforts of so many come to fruition in the form of a beautiful, strong and safe refuge for children.

When we left Africa in January 2013, something was vastly different. As we hugged Hope goodbye, we were struck by something beautiful and significant -- we were leaving her in a better spot than ever before. She looked healthy, well fed and thankful for a safe place to rest her head. Arise Home is now in the fabric of Kershaw's Challenge and truly embodies what we want the organization to represent. By God's grace, lives are being changed. It's awesome to think about what will happen in the season ahead and years to come. As we kick off a new season of baseball in Los Angeles, we hope that others will catch wind of what is going on through Kershaw's Challenge.

Join our team in making a difference off the field. Children in our nation and worldwide will be positively affected and their lives transformed. The unexpected result is what happens to you as you dedicate your life to serving a greater cause.

Kershaw's Challenge