Shane Victorino is like the Energizer Bunny -- he keeps going and going.
04/07/2009 1:53 PM ET
Helping others is natural to Victorino
Effervescent Hawaiian always ready to lend a hand
By Andy Jasner / Special to MLBPLAYERS.com
"I've been known to drive some people crazy," Victorino quipped.
The Gold Glove center fielder for the defending World Series champion Phillies is a kid wrapped up in an adult's body. All jokes aside, Victorino has channeled his exuberance and energy into becoming a Major League player worthy of selection to Team USA for March's World Baseball Classic.
Before a game, Victorino jokes around with teammates' children and takes the time to interact with them. He's that way in all facets of his life. That same outgoing nature has sparked Victorino's involvement with many charities and foundations.
"I like giving my time," Victorino said. "I like helping people. I like talking to kids. If there's anything I can do, I like to do it because of the way it makes me feel and the impact it has on people. I can't tell you how many different people have said 'thank you' to me for winning the World Series and what it did for someone's family. One guy told me he was closer with his son than he had been in years. I was like, 'Wow.'
"I've also had people tell me how happy they were that I took a couple of hours to help out at a charitable function and how it changed their son's or daughter's life. It's amazing to think you could have that much of an impact, but it's an unbelievable feeling for me."
Victorino is aligned with a number of charities, highlighted by his involvement as a member of the Players Trust's Action Team youth volunteer program and his individual work with the ALS Foundation.
ALS, commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a neurodegenerative disease that usually attacks both upper and lower motor neurons and causes degeneration throughout the brain and spinal cord. A common first symptom is a painless weakness in a hand, foot, arm or leg, which occurs in more than half of all cases. Other early symptoms include difficulty speaking, swallowing or walking.
"When you talk to someone affected by ALS, it makes you appreciate everything you have and how lucky you truly are," Victorino said. "Some of these people affected by ALS have trouble just walking down a hallway. Many of them need canes or crutches or wheelchairs. It breaks your heart to see how much difficulty some people have just in functioning in their everyday lives. If I can provide some hope and some inspiration, that's an absolute no-brainer for me."
In January, Victorino had another moving experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Eight-year-old Brandon Crosby wished to meet Victorino, his favorite player. That wish was granted, and Brandon and his family traveled to Citizens Bank Park by limousine to meet Victorino, play catch and get a tour of the clubhouse and batting cages.
"So many kids are not worried about their next Little League game but rather whether they're going to live or not," Victorino said. "To help as many kids as possible by meeting with them and hanging out with them is as great for me as it is for them. I just really like meeting people and talking to them. These kids are so positive when I meet them. That makes me feel great."
Victorino doesn't stop there.
He has also been involved in "A Round to Remember," a celebrity golf tournament featuring athletes, sports personalities and entertainers. The tournament provides an entertaining event to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer's Association Aloha Chapter.
"I'm very fond of anything I can do to help in Hawaii," said Victorino, who is from Wailuku, Hawaii. "Not many athletes make it to the pros from Hawaii. If there are things I can do in my home state, I'm going to do it."
Victorino's personality is infectious to his teammates. That demeanor spreads off the field. When one of his teammates asks for a favor, Victorino is quick to oblige.
"I have a hard time saying no," Victorino said. "But that's a great thing. I'm blessed to be playing Major League baseball, making good money. I know how fortunate I am. Helping others just seems to come naturally to me. That's how I'll always be."
-- Red Line Editorial