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Saturday’s trip to Atlanta began with a police escort to the Cairo city limits and ended with an interview aired on the large video board in the middle of a Braves baseball game. For representatives of the Jackie Robinson Boys & Girls Club of Cairo and Grady County, recognizing Robinson’s legacy with the Atlanta Braves was a special treat that even included a large monetary donation for the club.
“Our children displayed the proud character in whom we, our community, the Atlanta Braves and MLB were celebrating and that is #42 Jackie Robinson,” says Stephen Francis, JRBGC director. “It has been because of his sacrifices and the life that he lived in front of the whole world that we are able to celebrate each year in his honor.”
The Atlanta Braves and Fox Sports South sent its Fan Express Luxury Charter bus to pick up the Cairo contingent here around lunch Saturday. Wearing matching neon yellow t-shirts and caps, they arrived at Sun Trust Park late that afternoon where they received pizza and Braves goody bags. Francis says experts on the man who broke baseball’s color barrier welcomed the youth to Atlanta and shared information on Robinson’s life.
After a tour of Sun Trust Park, the club members and chaperones enjoyed free time in the stadium’s kids zone, Hope and Will’s Sandlot, where they had fun with a rock climbing wall, zipline and carnival games.
Francis says, “It was so heart warming watching our children, who have been through so much in the last seven months with Hurricane Michael and the recent tornado, laugh and smile and feel like they were kings and queens for a day.”
The club then found their seats in the outfield where they watched the Braves defeat the New York Mets, 11-7. During the game, Braves news media interviewed Francis and Charles Renaud, who is a member of the JRBGC board of directors. Their interview played on the stadium’s large video board.
Francis says, “This incredible trip provided by the Atlanta Braves & Fox Sports South was a dream come true for our JRBGC children . . . .The JRBGC would like to thank the Atlanta Braves Organization and Fox Sports South for their kindness and concern. Our children will always cherish these memories and our community will continue to remain #Unbroken. Go Braves!”
After the game, the Cairo travelers returned home on the same impressive charter bus.
In addition to the experience, the club is expected to receive a donation of approximately $11,000 thanks to the Braves Foundation and fans who purchased 50/50 Raffle tickets during the Braves’ April 13 and 14 games against the Mets. The Braves Foundation website describes the new game feature stating fans can buy raffle tickets through the 6th inning of each home game, and one ticket holder wins half of the proceeds. The other half goes to the Foundation to use for charitable works. The Foundation’s proceeds from those two games will go to the Jackie Robinson Boys & Girls Club of Cairo and Grady County, Francis says.