Young, Gonzalez lead Padres' charge

Young, Gonzalez lead Padres' charge

SAN DIEGO -- Right-hander Chris Young and his wife, Liz, have engaged in a handful of charitable endeavors -- everything from giving tickets to children as a reward for excelling in the classroom, to handing out school supplies, to visiting sick children in the hospital.

But Young, one of several players, coaches and members of the organization who has given time to furthering the Padres' charitable endeavors in 2008, wishes he could do more.

"There are so many kids out there," Young said. "I wish that I could give to everyone."

Young was just one of many in the Padres family who contributed to the team's ongoing charitable endeavor this year.

Young and his wife created the CY All-Stars program, which provided tickets and promotional items to 1,000 outstanding students identified by the San Diego County Office of Education.

For the second year in a row, the Youngs also hosted 120 disadvantaged students at a special event at a local Target store, where they distributed backpacks filled with back-to-school supplies.

"Liz and I decided to have a ticket program for kids excelling in school, so that they could be rewarded with tickets to games," Young said. "It's an opportunity for a lot of kids who had never seen a game, and hopefully provide some incentive for them to excel in school."

What Young wasn't prepared for was the feedback from the children who benefited from the CY All-Stars program.

"We've received touching thank you notes from the kids, telling us how much fun they had," Young said. "For me, it's hard to fathom. I guess we get a little spoiled because we do this for a living and a lot of people don't get to experience that."

Young and teammate Adrian Gonzalez were two players who paid visits to Hospital Infantil, a children's hospital in Tijuana for which the Padres raised $568,000.

"That's always extremely hard because you see these little children who are sick and they are fighting things we would never think about," Young said. "It's touching to see them fighting, some for their lives.

"If we can go in there and provide even 10 minutes of comfort for these children, it's worth it. Those kids are so challenged, but you come away with a great perspective."

Gonzalez was also very active in charitable endeavors. He and his wife, Betsy, launched The Adrian and Betsy Gonzalez Foundation with a celebrity dinner at Acqua Al 2 in August and raised over $50,000 for from that event, with the proceeds used to empower underprivileged youth through athletics, education and health.

Gonzalez is also an ambassador for the San Diego chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is the honorary chair for the East Lake Education Foundation Golf Tournament and South Bay YMCA Golf Tournament.

Looking ahead, Gonzalez and his brothers, Edgar and David, will host two baseball clinics at PETCO Park -- Dec. 20-21. For more information, please call 619-795-5275, extension 6.

Some of the Padres' other charitable endeavors in 2008 include:

• The Padres' players, ownership and front office raised $129,500 in 2008 for the Padres Scholars program, a program that has provided $7,000 scholarships to academically talented, financially challenged middle school students. Including corporate donations, the program has pledged more that $2 million for academic achievement.

• The Padres have also provided $200,795 in financial support to 91 events and organizations to date. Additionally, the club provided in-kind support to more than 1,100 community events, schools and local organizations to date.

• The Padres Foundation introduced a health and fitness program, FriarFit, in conjunction with the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, The California Endowment, San Diego Office of Education and the San Diego Unified School District.

• The Padres and SportService added 10 healthy food items to the ballpark concessions menu and conducted FriarFit Instant Recess exercise breaks at PETCO Park's Park at the Park prior to Sunday home games. An online resource for schools, kid, and families is in production and is expected to be launched in early 2009.

• The team distributed 96,383 tickets to deserving organizations, families and military personnel through player ticket programs, sponsor ticket programs, season-ticket-holder donations and Major League Baseball's Commissioner's Initiative. The team also provided 63,094 discounted tickets to the military.

• The Padres refurbished three Little Padres Parks in 2008: Ramona PONY Baseball -- which will be dedicated on Dec. 3 -- and two fields at Allied Gardens Little League (to be dedicated on Dec. 6). The park in Ramona is in an area that was affected by the 2007 wildfires.

• In addition to the $568,000 the Padres raised for the Hospital Infantil, they raised $615,820 for the Family Health Centers of San Diego in 2008 in conjunction with their Day at the Padres events.

• Players and coaches made 419 appearances in 2008, nine to military hospitals, including a visit to National Naval Medical Center in Washington, D.C., participated in baseball clinics and signings in China when the team played exhibition games in Beijing in March.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.