Feb. 4, 2014
By: Lauren Albertson
FRESNO, Calif. - While gearing up for the 2014 baseball season, members of the Fresno State baseball team were not only putting in time on the field and in the weight room, but also taking time to volunteer with various community service projects this past fall.
Senior infielder Jake Alvarez, along with junior pitcher Casey Rodriguez, sophomore pitcher Tim Borst and freshman infielder Jesse Medrano had the opportunity to impact the lives of a few young patients from Children's Hospital through the Big Heroes/Little Heroes program.
"You get to hang out with the kids for a couple of hours, do some fun events and kind of take their minds off of their struggles," Alvarez said. "It's a really humbling experience to see these kids with a smile on their face knowing what they've been through."
Alvarez enjoys bonding with the little heroes, while also finding inspiration though them.
"It's not every day that you get to hang out with kids who have gone through so much and to see those smiles," said Alvarez. "It brings you back and humbles you. It really puts things into perspective. I haven't been through what they've been through. They're continuing on, and they're doing it with a smile on their face."
Alvarez says his favorite thing about being a part of the Big Heroes/Little Heroes program is seeing the impact that he and other student-athletes have on others' lives just as much as they have on his.
Big Heroes/Little Heroes was created from the legacy of the California Bowl at Fresno State during the 1980's when football players from each team were partnered with a "little hero" from Children's Hospital that came to watch the game. The bond between the players and patients continued to grow and the Fresno Downtown Rotary saw its positive impact on so many lives and decided to sponsor the Big Heroes/Little Heroes program along with Children's Hospital and Fresno State Athletics.
Today the program continues to be a rewarding experience for the 90 student-athletes and the 37 patients from Children's Hospital teaming up four times each semester for several hours of bonding and fun. This year, Big Heroes/Little Heroes have gone bowling, attended Fresno State volleyball and basketball games and enjoyed a holiday party and look forward to four more events this spring.
Other members of the Bulldog baseball team took some time out of training for the 2014 season to go visit Lincoln Elementary and speak to students during Anti-Bullying Week.
Junior outfielder Taylor Tempel, freshman infielder Kenny Corey and freshman outfielder Joe Prior spent an October morning with a second grade class and spoke to the class about what damaging effects bullying can have, read a story and signed autographs for the students.
"We had a great time," Tempel said. "The three of us walked in there and all I could see were smiles on their faces. We signed autographs for them and tried to make an impact on the kids with the time we had there."
Tempel realizes he is a role model to aspiring baseball players in the community, especially young kids, and enjoyed the opportunity he and his teammates had to raise awareness about bullying and standing up against it.
"I'm always looking for an opportunity to help in the community," Tempel said. "We thought it would be a great experience. It's great that we we're able to speak to a class so young. It can really help so they know the bad things that can come out of bullying as they get older."
October is bullying prevention month and schools and organizations around the country take part each year. Schools like Lincoln Elementary celebrate with an "Anti-Bullying Week" at school raising awareness and providing resources to students to discourage bullying in their lives.
"Catch the Wave" - 2014 Fresno State baseball season tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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