On August 29th, over 200 teens from the YMCA of Greater New York were treated to a day at Citi Field, but the day offered much more than a baseball game. As part of this fifth season of the “Citi Field Kids” community-based program, NYC teens were given a tour of Citi Field’s Jackie Robinson Rotunda, located at the entrance to the stadium, before enjoying the game and meeting Mets’ reliever and Jackie Robinson Foundation sponsor LaTroy Hawkins and pitcher Robert Carson. On hand to conduct the tours and serve as mentors to the young beneficiaries were JRF alumni Heather Cannady (’04) and Choumika Simonis (‘11) and current JRF Scholar Karissa Royster (‘16).
“Citi Field Kids” was developed by the Mets and Citi in collaboration with the Jackie Robinson Foundation. In addition to tickets to the game and a tour, these special days feature a program presentation in the Citi Field auditorium that encourages the middle and high school students to adopt the values embodied in the life of American hero, Jackie Robinson. The JRF alumni and scholar presenters talked of their own personal journeys and their tie to the incredible legacy of the legendary Hall of Famer and Civil Rights advocate.
JRF Scholar and Texas native Karissa Royster shared her story of her dream to attend New York University, far from her hometown. She described her experience as a recipient of the coveted, four-year Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship and how she was able to make her dream a reality with the help of JRF.
Royster and the other JRF participants described the day as inspiring for them as well, with Royster noting that “It was a wonderful opportunity to share Jackie’s legacy with young students and to encourage them to put in the hard work it takes to achieve the dreams they may have.”
JRF President and CEO Della Britton Baeza lauded the partnership by saying that "Since its inception in 2009, the Citi Field Kids program has strengthened our longstanding relationships with two of our most ardent supporters – the Mets and Citi.” She added, “How gratifying it is to know that through these Citi Field Kids Days, our scholars and alumni can inspire and motivate New York City students to reach their full potential, while gaining inspiration and pride of purpose themselves."
The Jackie Robinson Foundation is pleased to mention that The New York Mets and Citi fund both the Foundation’s celebrated Mentoring and Leadership Development Program and the Jackie Robinson Museum project.
Pictured above: JRF Scholar Karissa Royster (far left) with teens from the YMCA of Greater New York at Citi Field's Jackie Robinson Rotunda