Alumnus visits every MLB ballpark, takes foster kids to games
By Erin Shaw
ECU News Services
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
During a summer baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, a child in foster care sat in the upper deck of Coors Field enjoying his first ever Major League Baseball game.
He and some other kids from Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains sat in the stadium’s Mile High Row, exactly one mile above sea level with stunning views of the field below and the Denver peaks beyond. He wore a DC hat and a black baseball glove. When Rockies player German Marquez blasted a homer in the fifth inning, he was ready.
His huge smile in the photo afterwards made Ron Clements happy. It was Clements who made the moment happen.
Not the home run of course. But the ECU alumnus spent the spring and summer traveling the country in an RV and taking foster children to baseball games. Clements and his wife, Patti, traveled to all 30 MLB stadiums this year while raising awareness of the needs of children in the foster system. They logged 15,000 miles since leaving their home in Charlotte on March 12, drove through 38 states and two Canadian cities, and secured 300 tickets for foster children and their families.
“It’s a bit of normalcy for these kids, getting them away from things that might be troubling them,” Clements said. “At least at a baseball game, they can just be a kid for three or four hours and enjoy things that other kids are getting to do with their families.”
The trip started as a vacation of sorts. Patti’s job is remote and Ron had recently left a sports reporting job covering the NFL. They decided on baseball, and a friend suggested bringing kids to games.
That friend was Celeste Dominguez, CEO of the Children’s Hope Alliance, a North Carolina-based child welfare agency. As the Clements drove from stadium to stadium, they partnered with the teams and local foster care organizations to get kids out to games. Many children, like the boy who caught the home run ball at Coors Field, had never been to a professional sporting event before.
On any given day, there are nearly 438,000 children in foster care in the United States, according to the Children’s Rights organization — enough to fill an MLB stadium several times over. Although he and Patti had no experience with foster kids and the foster system before their journey, they learned a lot, Ron Clements said.
“There are many foster organizations out there and a huge need for foster parents. Our whole mission was to raise awareness of kids in the foster system,” Clements said. “We want people to get involved, whether it’s fostering, adopting or donating.”
Clements graduated from ECU in 2009 with a degree in broadcast journalism. A Wisconsin native (and lifelong Brewers fan), Clements went to ECU after serving in the Marine Corps. Upon graduating, he started a career covering sports teams.
Of all the stadiums he visited, Clements said his favorite was PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
“It sits right on the river overlooking downtown. It’s very affordable and easy to get to. Pittsburgh fans love their teams, so it’s a great atmosphere to watch a game,” he said.
Now that the trip is over, Clements said he and Patti are planning another on for the future. In the meantime, he’ll be rooting for the Brewers and ECU.
“Go Brewers!” he said. “And go Pirates!”
Find out more about Ron Clements’s stadium tour at HomeRunonWheels.com.