Faithful Fan | Faith aspect led ballplayer, wife to support Cardinal Glennon
Monday morning, Leslee Holliday reflected on how much she, her husband, Matt, and other St. Louis Cardinals ballplayers enjoyed being part of a new program of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center called “Homers for Health.”
“Hopefully he (Matt) and the Cardinals will be able to hit a lot of home runs this year,” she told me.
I’m no genie, but somebody must have heard her wish. Playing the opening game in a series against the Cincinnati Reds, Matt was at the plate in the first inning with a 1-1 count when he smacked a two-out home run. That was followed the same inning by a two-run shot by David Freese and another homer on the next pitch by Yadier Molina to stake the Cards to a 4-0 lead and an eventual 7-1 victory.
Matt and co-chairman Freese are encouraging fans to make pledges in 25-cent increments for every home run the Cardinals hit in 2012. All donors who make a pledge will receive a Rally Tally Scorecard and Homers for Health window cling. Any pledge over 50 cents per homer will also receive a commemorative photo from the ballplayers thanking them for their support.
Leslee is a big part of the connection to Cardinal Glennon. When she and Matt moved to St. Louis they looked to support an organization focused on helping children. They visited Cardinal Glennon and found a connection with the hospital and staff as well as its mission established by the archdiocese and Franciscan Sisters of Mary. “We felt that the people who work there exemplify Christ, and we wanted to partner with them,” Leslee said.
They visit the children and families at the hospital regularly for an hour or two and thought about what else they could do to incorporate Matt’s work with their love for the children and the people who work there. The Homers for Health program can spike interest in baseball, with participants watching the games. “I think it’s neat that they can watch the game, and every time a ball leaves the park that can help their hospital. People around St. Louis are thinking of the Cardinal Glennon kids,” Leslee said.
She cited the families she’s met, including one with a daughter who was a patient, Maggie. “It’s neat to see how God provides even in their weakness. They’re just such a blessing to be around. That’s mainly the reason why we wanted to get more involved than we already are because we met their family and just were so inspired by them. It’s hard not to do anything when you get to know people better.”
Matt’s dad is a baseball coach on the amateur level, Leslee said, and “Matt’s naturally a team guy. He wanted to include David in on this and the rest of the Cardinal team too. St. Louis is so blessed. They don’t even realize the type of men the Cardinals have employed. It’s impressive. They are just really good men, and they are all excited to be a part of this. St. Louis has really got something special here, that’s for sure.”
Leslee said she just got off the phone with Matt and they had a men’s breakfast and Bible study with 12 guys there. Bible studies in spring training included some 40 people, husbands and wives, and it is an important part of the team. Though the Hollidays aren’t Catholic, the group does include Catholics. “That’s really unique,” Leslee said. “Matt’s in his ninth year in the big leagues, and this year and last year (with the Cardinals) is hands down the most active Christian community I’ve seen within a team.”
She is aware of the Cardinals history of faith-filled players, including Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst, both Catholics. “It’s nice that it’s accepted. Everyone in the Cardinals organization allows the freedom to be able to do that, and that’s a blessing because not all organizations support it the way the Cardinals have. Matt and I really appreciate that.”
Dan Buck, executive director of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, said with the help of corporate sponsors, 100 percent of all pledges will go directly to services at Cardinal Glennon. “Matt Holiday and David Freese … have a passion for doing things for others. I can’t even tell you some of the things the Hollidays have done. They don’t do it for the publicity. They do it because they want to help.”
They agreed to do the program because they knew they could make a difference by enlisting the help of Cardinal fans. “They are truly stewards of the resources God blessed them with,” Buck said.
Matt sees it as a way to make his skills and talents stand for something, Buck said. Faith-filled Christian athletes are attracted to the fact that Cardinal Glennon celebrates its faith background, and they appreciate that it has daily Mass, prayer groups for families and more, he added.
Catholic school students also have become involved in the program. To take part, see glennon.org or pick up a pledge form at any Dierbergs location.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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