Former Major League Baseball star Reggie Sanders is devoted to helping families affected by autism.
His connections are helping to broaden the awareness.
Through his charity, The Reggie Sanders Foundation (RSF), and with the help of some celebrities and close friends, the Myrtle Beach resident will be raising money and awareness for the cause all day Saturday with the 2nd Annual Advantage Games and the Legends Never Fade celebrity softball game at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
“We feel that we’ve done a very good job at bridging the region, coming together to figure out ways to work towards this movement in this community,” said Sanders, a native of Florence. “It’s important for RSF because – when I moved here – the awareness wasn’t getting out there the way it was supposed to. Using my connections, we’ve been able to open doors to create this kind of bridge.”
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The Advantage Games is a private event created by RSF to allow participants with autism and autism-related disorders a chance to engage in a variety of life challenges in a day of “encouragement, empowerment and personal achievement.”
With over 20 games and activities designed by Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists to help participants work on their fine/gross motor skills, safety skills, living skills and team building, the Advantage Games will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (registration at 9:30 a.m.) at the ballpark. Participants will move through the variety of stations with the help of “peer buddies” and volunteers.
“It’s going to be a great event,” Sanders said. “While the kids are engaged in the games, we will have an informational fair for the parents and families to gain information about services that are provided in our area as well as strategies for their child to become self-sufficient and positive members in the community after the school bell and graduation.”
There will also be a silent auction (6-9 p.m.) and a live auction (6:45-7:45 p.m.) with over 150 items to raise funds for the cause.
The rosters for the Legends Never Fade celebrity softball game, which features National Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony La Russa as managers, will be announced at 8 p.m. The national anthem will be performed by Savannah Thompson, a young woman from the Grand Strand with disabilities, at 8:15.
The game is set for 8:30, and there will be fireworks afterward. Legendary basketball coach Bob Knight will be La Russa’s bench coach, while Coastal Carolina football coach and businessman Joe Moglia will serve in the same position under Ripken.
A plethora of former MLB, NFL and other athletes will be among those participating in the game.
“Most of the guys that I do call on have been longstanding friends of mine. I know their heart and I know their intention,” Sanders said. “These guys are coming because they have a heart for the foundation and a heart for all kids; not just those affected by autism.”
Sanders will also help lead the “Learning from Legends” event Sunday at 11 a.m. at Christ United Methodist Church in Myrtle Beach, which will feature several hall of famers and legends who will go in depth about “leading with faith.”
Other celebrities set to attend and speak include former MLB players Felipe Lopez, Orlando Hudson, Ray Durham, Rafael Furcal, Marlon Anderson, Rick Ankiel, Russ Ortiz, Mookie Wilson and Alex Cintron; former NFL quarterback and Coastal Carolina alumnus Tyler Thigpen; Olympian and Coastal Carolina alumna Amber Campbell; and former NFL player and Clemson alumnus Ricky Sapp.
Sanders is eager to continue his charitable efforts on the Grand Strand with such big names helping him.
“They’re coming to use their passion and to use their purpose so that others can use theirs,” he said.