Howard’s Homecoming

Major League power hitter Ryan Howard might be the Phill ies’ ultimate offensive weapon, but he’ll always be St. Louis’ home-grown-talent-turned-superstar philanthropist.

Baseball powerhouse and St. Louis native Ryan Howard returned to the Lou last month with an All-Star mission: to celebrate the launch of his new charity, the Ryan Howard Family Foundation (howardsreach.org).

Involving St. Louis in the Foundation was a no-brainer because it’s my roots—it’s where it all began,” says Ryan Howard, the buzzy baseball player who returned to his hometown of St. Louis last month to launch his new charity, the Ryan Howard Family Foundation. Headquartered in St. Louis, the foundation aims to improve the lives of local disadvantaged youth (as well as kids in Philly). “If there’s a chance that I can help just one kid, and they can become the next big ball player or a doctor or a lawyer, it’s all worth it to me.”

STL Comeback
The Foundation launch party—and a coveted spot on the National League’s 2009 All-Star Team—prompted Howard’s highprofile homecoming in mid-July, and gave him ample opportunity to spread the word about the Foundation’s mission to promote education and physical fitness through the support of scholarships and local community programs. The famed first baseman pulled out all the stops in celebration of his newly formed charity with The Ryan Howard All-Star Bash, held on July 13th at Lumen, featuring special guest performer DMC of legendary rap group Run-DMC and a Who’s Who guest list of local and national celebs (including Alyssa Milano, Derek Jeter and Will Witherspoon), who came out in support of an organization that Howard is proud to say is formed around absolutely everything he believes in. for the love of the game Despite claiming Rookie of the Year in 2005, MVP in 2006 and the World Series and MLB Home Run and RBI Championships in 2008— not to mention becoming the fastest player in baseball history to reach 100 homeruns— Howard hasn’t forgotten the days he spent hitting rocks with a Wiffle Ball bat in his St. Louis backyard and worshiping star Cardinals players like Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee and Vince Coleman. Coaches of his alma maters (Lafayette High School and Missouri State University) immediately recognized his Major League potential—and the power of his million-dollar swing—but Howard assumed no guarantees, hitting the batting cages and the gym while others were hitting the bars. And although he’s since traded Wiffle Ball for the Majors and many more coveted  titles— including the MLB Home Run Derby Champion and NL Hank Aaron Award (both in 2006)—Howard is thrilled to make the
Foundation yet another reason (in addition to spending quality time with family and friends) to return to his hometown whenever
possible. As for his next Major League move, Howard prefers to keep it simple. “It’s really all about the game for me,” he says. “I’m just happy to have the opportunity to play in the big leagues. My  plan is to go out there and keep doing the best for my team and just see what happens next.”

 

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