Baseball charity event is a big hit

Updated: July 13, 2011, 11:32 AM ET
By Master Tesfatsion | ESPNDallas.com

FRISCO, Texas -- It's an annual tradition for Mike Modano to trade out his hockey stick for a wooden bat once every summer. Although Modano is no longer in a Dallas Stars uniform, he still finds a way to make a positive impact in the metroplex.

Modano hosted his 10th Reebok Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game on Saturday at Dr Pepper Ballpark, a charity event benefiting The Heroes Foundation and The Mike Modano Foundation. Through the baseball game, Modano has helped raised over $1.7 million for local youth in North Texas.

"Its just a great cause," Modano said. "It raises money for our foundation, obviously, and people in need and kids that need it to most."

Fans gathered to watch their favorite athletes and celebrities play in a game of fast-pitch baseball -- the Blue Sox defeated the White Sox 15-3 -- and snag autographs from the likes of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Michael Clarke Duncan and actor Donald Faison.

Those in attendance also got a special appearance from the Larry O'Brien Trophy before the game and heard "God Bless America" sung by former American Idol runner-up David Archuleta.

"The first year I was so nervous to see if anybody would even come to the game, and everyone did," Heroes Foundation founder Charlie McKinney said. "And every year we've [done] it the next year. So here we are 10 years later."

The Heroes Foundation is a non-profit organization providing Dallas inner-city youth the chance to play in team athletics while building self-confidence. McKinney said through the proceeds of the game and generous donations, The Heroes Foundations was able to build the HDNet Baseball Heroes Baseball Field at Pike Park in 2005. Each year, over 25,000 kids play in the $1.5 million facility located in downtown Dallas next to the American Airlines Center.

"You don't often see what the event does or where the proceeds go," actor Geoff Stults said. "You just show up and know where the party is or where the reception [is]. And this here, you get to see the kids, you see the actual ballpark they built, you see all the people and you know these guys are doing this all year-round."

The Mike Modano Foundation raises funds to improve the lives of at-risk and under-served children in the Dallas area, specifically abused, abandoned and neglected children anywhere from newborns to 10 years old. The foundation has helped not only rebuild Jonathan's Place -- a Dallas area shelter for abused children -- but also the Mike Modano Cottage, which helps at-risk children who have been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services.

"We're trying anything we can to try and raise money to make people aware of what we're doing and educate people what needs to be done for the kids," Modano said.

McKinney said it's not difficult to get people to help with the event because everybody wants to help kids. He noted that the charity game takes care of the celebrities such as Stults, Cuban and Mavericks president Donnie Nelson, who have attended the event every year.

"I haven't gotten any better," Stults said. "As a matter of fact, I've gotten noticeably progressively worst at baseball every year. But what are you going to do? I still have more fun than anybody else."

Master Tesfatsion is a reporter for ESPNDallas.com.

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