The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are always seen giving back to the community from auctions and food and equipment drives to player and mascot appearances. Not a week goes by during the season or offseason when you won’t see the team participating in some sort of event to benefit a local organization.
Perhaps the biggest and most impactful event will occur this summer when the RailRiders participate in the Vs. Cancer fundraiser.
Several players and workers with the team have registered for the event, which is a nationwide campaign and dozens of teams are partaking in this year.
Those who sign up to help the cancer foundation will shave their heads in a solidarity move to raise donations for children who are diagnosed with the deadly disease.
The RailRiders have a team goal of $10,000 with 14 players and front office personnel signed up for the Baseball Vs. Cancer portion of the fundraiser. As of Friday, the team had raised $675 for the organization, ranking 56 out of 125 organizations participating. Players currently listed as shaving their heads on July 8 before the team’s game at PNC Field against Charlotte are Hazleton native Russ Canzler and relievers Jim Miller, Danny Burawa and David Herndon.
The notables in the front office listed as participating are president and general manager Rob Crain, executive vice president of operations Jeremy Ruby, and broadcasting and media relations assistant Aaron Berlin. The leader so far in raising money is fan experience coordinator T.J. Winters, who has raised $600 as of Friday afternoon. Don’t feel left out because according to the team’s website, fans can participate in the event as well.
It’s worth noting that some of the notable players and those in the front office are already without hair on their heads and more than likely can’t participate, including director of media relations and broadcasting John Sadak and Curt Camoni, vice president of baseball operations.
A few notable players who are balding or have shaved heads already are Zelous Wheeler, Antoan Richardson and Jose Pirela.
Teams participating from all over the country consist of youth, high school, college and minor league baseball organizations.
In 2013, the Vs. Cancer Foundation helped 40,663 kids battling cancer. That number is expected to grow this year.
The Vs. Cancer Foundation was founded by Chase Jones, who earned a scholarship to play baseball at the University of North Carolina. Before his career could be a success, he left practice one day in 2006 with a terrible headache. After getting checked, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.
In a move of solidarity, his teammates shaved their heads to support Jones at the time. Now a cancer survivor, Jones started the non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of children by funding international cancer research projects and supporting local children’s hospitals. Jones played for the Tar Heels from 2007-11 and started the foundation in 2012. So far in 2014, the organization has raised more than $1 million.