The game of life is not about balls and strikes. That’s why baseball’s men in blue have teamed up to host caring Build-A-Bear® experiences for children coping with serious illnesses and injuries.

In normal circumstances, Major League Baseball umpires would visit kids in person to deliver the furry friends. As everyone knows, the pandemic has been anything but normal. Kids undergoing treatment are more isolated during the coronavirus pandemic as visitors to hospitals are limited.

That is why UMPS CARE Charities is so excited we were able to make our 175th delivery since the program’s inception in 2006 to children at UChicago Medicine, even though the coronavirus has changed our usual routines.

Although our MLB umpires were not be able to visit in-person, UMPS CARE has shipped 100 Build-A-Bear® Workshop furry friends and outfits, all-new activity books and crayons to the hospital. We have worked closely with Child Life staffers to make this event possible, and are including face masks and other goodies, including a restaurant gift card, for our partners at the hospital who have been through so much this year as well.

Major League Baseball Umpire John Tumpane, of Chicago, took time out to send a special video message to the young patients.

UMPS CARE is proud to have distributed more than 17,500 Build-A-Bears® to kids across the country and in Canada for this program.

“Our umpires cannot be there in person this season, but they wanted to share some joy to kids who are undergoing medical treatment in the hospital and who really are in need of a smile,” said Jennifer Skolochenko-Platt, Executive Director at UMPS CARE Charities. “Our longtime partners at UChicago Medicine always make our visits so special, and we are grateful for their continued support for this program”

UMPS CARE is proud to announce a new partnership for this visit from our friends at Griffith Foods. Employees from the Chicago-based company volunteered time to pack goody bags for the kids and the company provided financial support to make this visit possible. Longtime UMPS CARE Charities supporter Melanie Ahern also donated to this event.

Special thanks to Griffith Foods employees Rachel Hozzian, Karolyne Barry and Aleka Cerney for taking time out to package goody bags for the patients. 

Thanks also to Jordan Porter-Woodruff for photos from the visit.