Phillies honor community 'angels'
More than 130 people recognized at Holiday Giving Party
PHILADELPHIA -- Angels.
That's how they were referred to at the Phillies Holiday Giving Party on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. And it's an introduction that was well-deserved.
After all, the 130 men and women being honored by the Phillies that evening were heroes in the community -- and they were being recognized for providing valuable services to those in need.
Among the attendees were Joanne and Ellis Hamiel, founders of Shadowtrax, an impressive after-school program that gives youths the chance to express themselves through music and the arts.
"We wanted to keep children off the streets," Joanne Hamiel said. "So we turned our house into a safe haven."
That idea came about just three years ago. Today nearly 50 boys and girls participate in the program and perform throughout the Delaware Valley. Their most recent performance: singing for Gov. Ed Rendell at the Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg, Pa.
Another hero was Joe McDonough, who spoke passionately on behalf of the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which provides financial support to families of critically ill children.
"This foundation is my crusade, and I will do it till the day I die," McDonough said.
The B+ foundation honors the memory of McDonough's son, Andrew, a 14-year-old athlete and an A student from Wilmington, Del. McDonough spoke of how Andrew went from playing four soccer games on Jan. 27, 2007, to cardiac arrest and a diagnosis of leukemia and sepsis just 48 hours later. The doctors didn't think he would survive the night.
"The doctors didn't know how tough my son was," McDonough said.
Andrew's courageous battle lasted nearly six months until he passed away on July 14. But his positive spirit lives on through the works of B+ Foundation -- a name taken from Andrew's blood type and the family's motto: be positive.
Phillies team president David Montgomery and Phillies Charities president Lynn Montgomery had nothing but praises for the organizations honored.
"We salute each and every one of you tonight," David Montgomery said.
Joining Montgomery was the entire board of Phillies Charities, which distributed more than $400,000 in grants to the recognized organizations. Throughout the year, more than $1.2 million has been donated, which includes money raised from the 2009 Phillies Phestival.
The grants will no doubt help the community heroes continue their great work.
"We greatly appreciate being selected by the club and having the opportunity to be one of tonight's guest speakers," McDonough said. "Andrew always loved the Phillies, and I've got to believe that he's smiling down knowing that he is associated with his favorite team. Thank you ... to everyone associated with the club for your support and hospitality."
2009 Phillies Charities Community Heroes
A.S. Jenks School (South Philadelphia)
Aid for Friends (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties)
ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter (Philadelphia)
American Heart Association (Philadelphia)
Bethel Chapel Church (North Philadelphia)
Bethesda Project (North Philadelphia)
Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School (Southwest Philadelphia)
Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia (Philadelphia)
CHARGE Syndrome Foundation (New York)
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Philadelphia)
Clearwater for Youth (Clearwater, Fla.)
Community Partnership School (North Central Philadelphia)
CPR/AED Public Awareness & Training Network (Philadelphia)
Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women (Bucks County)
Episcopal Community Services (Philadelphia)
Ford PAL Center (South Philadelphia)
Kardon Institute For Arts Therapy (Philadelphia)
Mercy Neighborhood Ministries (Philadelphia)
Morton Plant Mease Foundation (Clearwater, Fla.)
NW Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (Northwest Philadelphia)
Outreach Bridges (Northeast Philadelphia)
Philadelphia Futures (Philadelphia)
Reaching Impacted Students Everywhere (R.I.S.E.) (North Philadelphia and Camden)
Richie Ashburn Baseball Foundation (Philadelphia)
RSVP Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (Montgomery County)
Shadowtrax Media Arts (Philadelphia)
Squash Smarts (Philadelphia)
Teens 4 Good (Philadelphia)
The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation (Wilmington, Del.)
The Covenant House, PA (Germantown)
The Delaware Valley Children's Charity (West Chester, Pa.)
The Pennsylvania SPCA (Juniata Park, Pa.)
The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation (Havertown, Pa.)
The Trauma Recovery Resilience Initiative for Children and Adolescents in Philadelphia (Philadelphia)
Tug McGraw Foundation (Napa, Calif.)
The Twilight Wish Foundation (Doylestown, Pa.)
Warmth in Winter Program (Philadelphia)
Women Against Abuse (Philadelphia)
Deb Rinaldi is the coordinator of business communications for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.