Braves manager, APIVEO honor local team for fighting childhood cancer

Players from Foundation Sports were honored as the APIVEO Players of the Month. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

With the help of a special guest, a local organization honored a group of baseball players helping kids battling cancer. Atlanta Braves Brian Snitker traveled to Peachtree City to honor the players at Foundation Sports as the APIVEO Players of the Month.

“I can tell Foundation Sports is doing this for all the right reasons,” said Snitker. “You all should be very proud. You’ve done a great job with these young men. What you’re doing here is going to do a lot of good.”

The players collected enough toys and necessities for 54 goodie bags for kids and families at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Chidlren’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The players also organized a “whipping childhood cancer” fundraiser with the coach whose team raised the most money getting a whipped cream pie to the face.

What brought Snitker to honor the players is not about what they’ve done on the diamond.

“Brian’s a baseball guy, and you’re baseball guys, but you’ve got something more important in common,” said Brad Jubin, founder of APIVEO. “The important bond that you have is your service, what you’ve done for kids. Baseball is extra.”

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker was on hand to present the award and share some pointers.

APIVEO (Always Play IV Each Other) is a leadership organization created to encourage and equip youth coaches to teach young athletes about leadership. As APIVEO Players of the Month winners, the team was entitled to a $1,000 prize from Zaxby’s that they would pass on to the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Presenting sponsor Zaxby’s doubled the gift, making it a $2,000 donation.

Giving back is just part of Foundation’s model.

“Our vision and our mission for Foundation Sports is development of players, both on and off the field,” said Steve Smeal, owner of Foundation, whose teams will be wearing APIVEO patches this year. “Today, these guys are champions, and they got crowned champions. There’s no game more important to us than teaching fundamental life lessons through the game of baseball.”

Gina Smeal noted that childhood cancer is a cause close to their hearts. Steve and Gina lived together at the Ronald McDonald House for three years while she was in graduate school.

“We all like to win. We know that, but this is the biggest win right here, teaching these boys how to be exceptional young men both on and off the field,” she said.

For more information on APIVEO, visit their website at www.apiveo.org.

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Christopher Dunn has been the sports editor for Fayette Newspapers since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Game Day magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.


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