Baseball is a tremendous boon to the Southwest Florida economy, particularly during the month of March as fans pour into Hammond Stadium and JetBlue Park to watch their favorite Major League Baseball teams. What many fans may not know is that the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox also contribute major dollars to help local charities and have been particularly generous to the Lee Health Foundation.
“Our relationships with these world-class organizations are irreplaceable,” said Chief Foundation Officer Skip Leonard. “With the support of these organizations, we are now looking at a multi-million-dollar expansion of the Regional Cancer Center, and we can provide the ongoing support we will need to keep our new children’s hospital a top-notch campus of leading healthcare.”
The Red Sox have been partnering with the foundation for the 24 years, raising money for Golisano Children’s Hospital through a trio of annual events: The Boston Tee Party and Celebrity Golf Classic at Forest Country Club and the Diamond Dinner at JetBlue Park. These efforts have netted $11 million to benefit the Children’s Hospital, including funds for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Extended Care Program and Barbara’s Friends Kids with Cancer Fund.
The Twins’ partnership with Lee Health dates back 19 years. Through the annual Minnesota Twins Celebrity Golf Classic, the organization has contributed more than $1.6 million to the Regional Cancer Center and its Compassionate Care Grant program, which offsets chemotherapy costs for uninsured and underinsured patients.
“Because of the awareness the tournament has brought to this initiative, the center as we know it now has grown into the only comprehensive service center for adult cancer in our region,” Leonard said.
Players and staff are happy to give back to the Southwest Florida community, says Mark Weber, manager of the Twins’ Florida Business Operations.
“I don’t think there’s a better partner to have in the country than Lee County,” he said, noting the Twins recently signed a new 30-year contract extension.
“We’ve had a lot of good times and made great memories here,” adds Andrew Seymour, General Manager for Miracle Baseball. The Twin’s Class A-Advanced affiliate celebrates its 25th anniversary in Fort Myers this year.