Tuesday, May 20, 2008
impACTA Kids Donates Baseball Cleats to District Youths
“And the fact is that when I die, I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who won a championship for The Washington Nationals. Or, the guy who caught the first pitch from President Bush here (at New Nationals Park) in 2008. I want to be remembered as the guy who built a complex--which 100 years from now—the kids where I come from—instead of being involved in wrongdoings—they will be playing baseball. That is the way I want to be remembered from where I come from.”
“I am a little different, that’s me. That is the way I am. Very few things impress me.”
Our Manager Manny Acta was sitting in The Press Interview Room at New Nationals Park--it was Monday, May 19th at 11:30AM. He was on hand to discuss a major step in his impACTA Kids Foundation. Formed just six short months ago--impACTA Kids is dedicated to helping youths in his Native Dominican Republic and here in The United States. The goal--to give the kids of today a better chance of succeeding in life. A task that was difficult for Our Manager--growing up in a land with little to offer him--at the time of his youth.
Joining Manny at the Press Conference were his sister--Anayma--and Jeff Locklear--Senior Marketing Manager of Under Armour.
Manny was speaking to a select group of 12 District Of Columbia High School Baseball Teams and their coaches. All gathered for the announcement that The ImpACTA Kids Foundation was donating 180 pairs of Baseball Cleats, courtesy of Under Armour, to the many District High School Players in need.
But this event was more than just about handing out shoes. Manny's a proud man and wanted to emphasize to these youngsters that there is more to life than sports. At times--Our Manager wasn't mincing words.
“I grew up in a little dinky town in The Dominican Republic. Don’t tell me how tough it is where you come from. In front of the house (which he grew up), there is still a dirt road which you don’t have here (in DC) and a sugar cane field right in the backyard. That’s how I grew up. No shoes, no nothing. We would play baseball by grabbing a milk carton and making that the base and we just played. Some of the baseballs we throw away during batting practice right here (at Nationals Park) would be the ones we use on Sundays over there to play a doubleheader.”
“So, don’t tell me you had it rough. We had it worse over there.”
As the many kids on hand listened with rapt attention, Manny explained the goals of his Foundation. His first major initiative is to build a baseball complex in his Native Dominican Republic--in his hometown of Ingenio Consuelo--included will be three Little League Fields. Currently--impACTA Kids is working with the Government of The Dominican Republic to secure the land and file the proper paperwork for his Baseball Academy. In the meantime--as impACTA Kids raises money through their website and other donations--Manny started and funded--thanks to Under Armour--his own Little League program in Consuelo. Additionally--his foundation is working to help raise awareness of children in The United States. And that's where yesterday's announcement for High School Baseball Players receiving baseball cleats comes into play.
Manny continued: “But, I am also part of this community (DC)—at least for seven to eight months out of the year. And who knows for how long. But, I thought it was appropriate that I do something for you guys (High School Baseball Players). And this is just a start.”
“Today, thanks to my sponsor—we (impActa Kids) are going to be able to provide you High School players shoes (cleats). I know that a lot of you guys like basketball, but I am not giving away sneakers. Baseball is my game and I want to get some of you guys involved in baseball. It’s a beautiful game. It’s a good game. And a lot of you guys are good athletes. You can handle this and we are hoping we can get some of you guys to embrace the game.”
Frazier O'Leary--Head Baseball Coach of Cardozo High School stating: “This is just wonderful to me. Anything to help the kids become baseball players is wonderful. I really like what he (Manny) said about being available to help come tutor our students in baseball. That is one of the biggest problems we have as coaches—is that a lot of our players come to us having never played baseball before. We grew up playing baseball as little kids. Our kids don’t do that. That's been a problem."
But before these kids where handed their new shoes--Manny Acta had some things to tell them about responsibility.
“The main thing is that everyone in here—regardless of where you come from—has a choice in life—which is the number one thing to remember in life. We are able to make choices. That is the biggest power we have. A plant can not make a choice. You can chop it down anytime you want and not water it down.”
“We have the power to make a choice—whether we want to take the right road or the wrong one. Everyday in the morning—when you wake up—you have a choice to either have a good attitude or a BAD ATTITUDE. It’s not genetic. So save it—if you want to tell me you have a bad attitude because your grandpa had a bad attitude 200 years ago.
"You can’t put school aside. You can’t get out of school. You have to stay in school. School helped me to get where I am right now—believe it or not. I went to High School, started to go to College. I was able to play baseball. And just because school helped me develop my brain—I came over to this country (USA) when I was 18 years old and I could not say ‘water’ in English. But, I picked it up quickly.”
“I made the adjustment over here. I knew The United States was not going to adjust to me. This is the greatest country in the world, but everything happened (to me) because of school. Not everyone in this room is going to be Ryan Zimmerman or Dmitri Young. Not everyone in here is going be Agent Zero (Gilbert Arenas—Wizards) or Caron Butler (Wizards). But there is a need for lawyers. There is a need for doctors, dentists. There is a need for financial advisers. And we need nurses and teachers in the community too.”
So, everyone in here has a choice. And the choices that you make today—it’s going to reflect on our life later on. So—think about what you are going to do. Not everyone is destined to be a superstar. You can have a lot of money, but this is a country where you don’t really have to be rich--to lead a nice comfortable life.”
With that--Our Manager Manny Acta handed out many of the 180 Baseball Cleats to the assembled High School Baseball Players and their coaches. Manny saying this project is the first of many to come for District Youths. Later, after the kids had left the Briefing Room for lunch in The Lexus President's Club and a Tour of New Nationals Park--Our Manager told me: “I get frustrated by young people that are disrespectful--that have no goals in life and are violent. They are the type of people that really frustrate me in life. And hopefully—some of these kids can go in the right direction. That’s why we are here—to try to pass on that message. It's important to be there and make the effort to help someone. You have to try."
Our Manager Manny Acta is the most Charismatic of Men and he also has a Heart. If you wish to help Our Number 14 in his quest to help children in his Native Dominican Republic, as well as, here in The States and The District of Columbia--you can donate through his website: www.impACTAkids.org
Beginning in just a few short weeks--impACTA Kids Foundation Tee-Shirts will be available at all Team Stores and Souvenir Shops throughout New Nationals Park. All money raised going directly to Manny's core programs of his Foundation.
The 12 District Schools represented at the press conference to receive baseball cleats from Manny Acta's impACTA Kids Foundation were:
Anacostia High School
Ballou High School
Bell Multicultural High School
Cardozo High School
Coolidge High School
Dunbar High School
McKinley Tech High School
Roosevelt High School
Spingarn High School
School Without Walls
Wilson High School
H.D. Woodson High School
Finally--when Manny was handing out the baseball cleats and taking photos with the various school team members--the kids from the School Without Walls stepped over to meet Manny. Hearing the announcement of their school name--Our Manager smiles and says: "School Without Walls!! Now, that's the type of school I WISH I HAD A CHOICE TO ATTEND!! Very cool!!"
Of course--Manny Acta stayed around until each and every child wanting--received an autograph from him.