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2023 Volunteers of the Year: Widener University Men’s Baseball Team

ALS United Mid-Atlantic is proud to recognize the Widner University Men’s Baseball Team as our 2023 Volunteers of the Year. Thank you to coach Kevin Burdick and the players and staff who have done so much for our ALS cause over the years.

We have 20 new players in our program this year. That makes up half of our roster. It was the first time that they were a part of something this special. The opportunity to serve the community and help in the fight against ALS is always humbling. I think our student-athletes realized the magnitude of their service when they were able to interact with the families and teams during the Walk itself. We are truly grateful and honored to be the Volunteers of the Year, but we are more humbled and grateful that we can be a small part in supporting the cause. We are looking forward to being back out there in 2024!

Kevin Burdick, Head Baseball Coach at Widener University

Below is an updated version of our profile of the Widener University Men’s Baseball Team from earlier this year:

Nearly 40 years ago, Malvina Charlestein, the mother of Chapter Board Chair Emeritus Ellyn C. Phillips, spoke with Nancy and Bill Giles of the Philadelphia Phillies and told them that “ALS belongs in baseball.” That started a historic relationship between the Phillies and ALS United Mid-Atlantic that includes events like Lou Gehrig Day, the Phillies Phestival, golf outings, and now hosting the ALS Walk at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Kevin Burdick joined the Widener baseball program in 2016. The team had recently begun volunteering with the annual Philadelphia ALS Walk, and they made it a goal to continue with this important cause. The Walk has grown in both size and complexity over the past 20 years. Setting up the event takes a lot of effort, and the young men who make up the Widener baseball team is always eager to help. Therefore, the Chapter is enthusiastic to recognize Kevin Burdick and the Widener University Men’s Baseball Team as our January Volunteers of the Month!

The Widener Men’s Baseball Team comes together as a unit to assist in any way that they can to make the Philadelphia ALS Walk run smoothly. The Chapter’s events team rolls up to Citizens Bank Park with tables, banners, and boxes of materials, and the players sprint into action to set up whatever is needed. They also disperse throughout the Walk route to guide event participants through the course and cheer the walkers on. The young men’s high spirits and cheering adds to the fun of the event and creates lasting memories as they meet ALS families.

“The event is talked about by our players and alumni each and every year,” said Kevin. “They love being part of the Walk and interacting with the families. We pride ourselves on giving back to the community and this event is a way we are able to do that.”

Kevin added, “I had a player come to me during the team introductions to tell me that his aunt was affected by ALS and that he was proud that he and his teammates could work this event. It meant so much to him.”

Many of the players talk with the care staff and other volunteers about the impact that ALS has had on their lives and how they plan to continue to support the ALS mission even after graduating. They each demonstrate a willingness to do whatever is necessary to help those in need.

“Volunteering with ALS United Mid-Atlantic has been amazing,” said Kevin. “From Kelsey on down, everyone has been great and has been truly appreciative of our time. In reality, we are the ones who are grateful to them. They work day-in and day-out to fight this disease so being able to help make their jobs easier is a blessing. I hope other programs and teams can see that a few hours of time can go a long way to helping find a cure.”

From setting up the event space to raising money and awareness to being a Visiting Volunteer, the fight against ALS is a true team effort. The Widener Baseball Team understands the value of teamwork. ALS United Mid-Atlantic is proud to have these players and coaches by our side, and we are honored to call them our Volunteers of the Year.

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