MLB umpires Ryan Blakney, Paul Emmel and Lance Barrett are joined by Jimmy Volpi (far right) and volunteers from the Arby’s Foundation at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver.

A few years ago, a former Minor League Baseball umpire named Jimmy Volpi reached out to us at UMPS CARE Charities wanting to support our programs. 

Jimmy started working as a Minor League Baseball umpire in the Arizona League in 2005 and spent eight years working on baseball fields across the country before embarking on a career with RB American and Arby’s. He is now Area Director Mountain North for the RB American Group, and he manages seven restaurants.

What started as a small reach out wanting to help has turned into an amazing partnership between UMPS CARE Charities and the Arby’s Foundation

“I really had no idea where this journey was going to take me or all the amazing people that I would meet and shape me into who I am today,” Jimmy said. “Over my journey as an umpire, I always looked up to the Major League Baseball umpires involved in UMPS CARE Charities because I could see the consistency of impact that they were making with everyone. This always gave me an example of how I could grow to try one day to make half the impact they make daily.”

Jimmy retired from professional umpiring in 2012 and continued working for an Arbys franchise and is now thworking for the RB American Group. In 2021, he saw an article about the 2021 MLB All-Star umpire crew making a visit to the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, where he now lives. 

“When I saw the article, it just clicked that this was my turn to team up with UMPS CARE and help make a difference in some local kids’ lives,” Jimmy said. 

MLB umpires Dan Bellino, Phil Cuzzi, Mark Ripperger and Shane Livensparger teach a young patient a proper out call at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

The mission of UMPS CARE meshed well with the mission of the Arby’s Foundation of making a difference in local communities. Through the compassion of the Major League Baseball umpires, UMPS CARE has been delivering Build-A-Bear furry friends to kids in hospitals since 2006. The kids who receive these toys not only get to choose which bear, puppy, monkey or other new friend they’d like, but they select from an array of outfits, too. They receive activity books, crayons, baseball-styled stress balls and get to talk baseball with the umpires. 

For many of these kids (and their siblings and caregivers) they have not been able to go to baseball games, so we bring the magic of the game to their bedside. UMPS CARE delivers 100 Build-A-Bear furry friends to each visit, and since our program started we have delivered more than 20,700 Build-A-Bear toys to kids undergoing treatment at more than 200 hospitals across the United States and in Canada. 

The Arby’s Foundation has been supporting our hospital visits at Children’s Hospital Colorado for the last three years and at St. Louis Children’s the last two years. In addition, Arby’s employees have volunteered at these visits and by stuffing goody bags for our hospital program. 

For the past two years, the Arby’s Foundations has provided UMPS CARE with grant support and has matched donations up to $10,000 for our 100 Bears for the Holidays program. We are looking forward to launching that campaign with Arby’s support again this December! 

“I never imagined that this partnership would return to my team as much as it has, all I can say is that it has been so blessed and THANK YOU to everyone with UMPS CARE because you continue to make a difference,” Jimmy said.

All of us at UMPS CARE Charities are blessed to have Jimmy and his team from the Arby’s Foundation on our crew! 

You can help make a difference by donating to our UMPS CARE Blue for Kids hospital program – proceeds from these donations support our visits to hospitals across the country where umpires deliver Build-A-Bear joy to sick children. 

Click here to make a difference!

Retired Minor League umpire Jimmy Volpi and MLB umpire Lance Barrett bring joy to this young patient at Children’s Hospital Colorado!