#ABQRoadTrip - Community Outreach in the "Land of Enchantment"
On Jan. 15, Dinger and the Rockies headed south to New Mexico to visit Rockies fans in the "Land of Enchantment."
After leaving Coors Field early in the morning, the mini-caravan made its first pit stop just south of Colorado Springs at the Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. There, the Rockies had some fun cruising around the racetrack and taking photos to share on Rockies social media. And once the checkered flag was flown, it was back on the road.
After quick stops at the Colorado-New Mexico State Line, beautiful Raton Pass and the city of Las Vegas, N.M., the caravan arrived in Santa Fe. They took in some of the city's iconic sights such as the Loretto Chapel's "Miraculous Staircase," Santa Fe Plaza, countless classic adobe structures, enjoyed a quick bite of New Mexico cuisine, then it was back on the road to complete the 447 mile journey.
When the Rockies arrived in Albuquerque, their first visit was Isotopes Park, home of the Albuquerque Isotopes. While the Isotopes are affiliated with the Rockies' NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers, Dinger didn't mind-he was more interested in making friends with the 'Topes mascot Orbit. After photo opportunities at the ballpark, Dinger went across the street to The Pit, home of University of New Mexico men's and women's basketball, where he was stonewalled by locked metal gates. He desperately wanted to explore the unique below-ground design that makes The Pit one of the loudest arenas in college basketball. Luckily with the help of his road trip companions, they found an open entrance and university staff showed them to the floor a few hours before that night's game against UNLV.
That evening's big event for the Rockies was to meet up with catcher/infielder and local legend Jordan Pacheco and TV partners ROOT SPORTS for a special autograph session in Rio Rancho. Rockies fans from all over New Mexico came to the restaurant to meet Jordan and watch the Lobos play on TV. One family even drove more than 100 miles to attend. Even though the Lobos lost to UNLV that night, it was an outstanding turnout and every Rockies fan went home happy.
The next morning, Jan. 16, was a big day with two Rockies "Make An Impact" school visits scheduled at North Star Elementary School in Rio Rancho-the first time the program has ever made its way to the state of New Mexico. These visits had the special added bonus of Pacheco participating in the program live, which was the first time a Rockies player has ever been able to be a live participant in an assembly and the program was customized to accommodate this. Rockies Assistant Director of Community Relations Dallas Davis and Dinger began the program that has been seen by more than 105,000 elementary school students since its inception. Throughout Pacheco's 30-minute portion of each of the two programs, he imparted important lessons to the students about hard work, goal-setting, dreaming big, staying focused and more. And coming from a Major League player from their own hometown, Pacheco's words carried extra significance for the North Star students. After two outstanding assemblies, Pacheco and the Rockies were ready to head to the next stop, UNM Children's Hospital.
For the visit to UNM Children's Hospital, Pacheco invited two of his good friends, Albuquerque natives and fellow professional baseball players, Scott Gracey of the Toronto Blue Jays and Max Walla, a prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Pacheco, Gracey, Walla and Dinger made the rounds at the hospital, popping their heads into each room and striking conversations with the children and their families. They spoke with hospital staff, signed autographs and posed for countless photos. It was a special morning and the group was able to brighten the days for all those in the hospital that day.
The hospital visit was the last stop in a rewarding road trip, and Dinger and the Rockies said goodbye to Jordan for now and hit the road again, headed back home.