Thursday, April 10, 2008

Washington Nationals Father of The Year Essay Contest

"There is so much bad stuff out there," stated Alphonso Maldon, Jr. "If we can help provide a positive atmosphere for children—something that is good—we ought to be telling the story. That is what The Nationals are all about.” Mr. Maldon--The Team's Senior Vice President of External Affairs was standing in The Presidents Club at New Nationals Park--yesterday afternoon (April 9, 2008). Our Washington Nationals--in partnership with The National Center for Fathering--were hosting The 2008 Washington Nationals Father of the Year Essay Contest. This second, of a now annual event, where children from all over the Greater Washington Area write 300 word or less essays describing the important roles their Father's play in their everyday lives.

A contest to raise awareness about the influence a caring parent can have on their very own child. 569 children from Grades 1-12, willingly accepted the assignment to share their feelings. And a host of local businessmen and businesswomen--including DC Councilman Harry Thomas--were on hand at New Nationals Park to judge the entries and find the best of the best.
“That’s a lot of children who took the time to say: ‘My Father is a good guy. I think he is a great role model and I want to tell the world about him," said Alphonso Maldon. "We (The Nationals) hopefully want to keep building on that type of thing."

Yesterday--the judges were handed the task of narrowing down the entries to 36 Top Finalists--three from each school grade. From that point--those parents chosen will be given private interviews. Ultimately--Five Dads will be selected as finalists. One will be named Winner as The 2008 Washington Nationals Father of The Year.

This Top Dad will receive all the following prizes:
Four tickets at a future 2008 Washington Nationals home game

Recognition as the 2008 Washington Nationals Father of the Year during the Celebration of Fatherhood
awards reception in June (date and location TBA)

Autographed bat

Two nights stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA

Personal Fathering Profile from the National Center for Fathering

But every child who participates will be deemed a winner. Here are the other prizes:

To EVERY YOUNG PERSON who participates and writes an essay:

A handsome Certificate of Merit.
An opportunity to nominate your father or father figure for the 2008 Washington Nationals Father of the
Year Award.

To the ESSAY WINNER in each of the 12 categories (grades 1-12):

A handsome Winning Essay Certificate
A $250 U.S. Savings Bond
Invitation to a Celebration of Fatherhood awards reception in June (date and location TBA)
Four tickets to the June 8 Washington Nationals game (each of the 24 runners-up will also receive four
tickets to the June 8 Washington Nationals game)

The opportunity for your father or father figure to be interviewed for the Father of the Year Award by an
associate of the National Center for Fathering (fathers and father figures of the 36 essay finalists are
eligible to be interviewed)

To the FIVE DADS who are selected as FINALISTS for the Father of the Year award:

Invitation to a Celebration of Fatherhood awards reception in June (date and location TBA)
Four tickets to the June 8 Washington Nationals game
Recognition, along with their son or daughter, during the June 8 pre-game ceremony at the
New Nationals Park

Washington Nationals apparel for the Father of the Year and the child who wrote about him
Autographed baseball
Induction into the National Center’s Fathering Hall of Fame
“Hall of Fame Dad” golf shirt and hat

The Businessmen and women on hand in President's Club were taking their jobs seriously. Many stories were shared, the moments appreciated reading about children--writing proudly about their father's caring ways. Over lunch--they made their decisions--picking the final 36. Now--this Essay Contest moves on to the next phrase--The Interviews. Come June 8th--when Our Washington Nationals take on The San Francisco Giants a New Nationals Park--The Washington Nationals Father of The Year will he honored on the field--before the game.
Alphonso Maldon, Jr--who leads many of Our Washington Nationals efforts within the area communities was kind enough to speak with me after the judging concluded.

“The values that The Nationals stand for is exactly what this program is about. We are trying to improve the lives of children and parents and families throughout the Washington Region. This particular program touches the lives of children and families in the whole Washington Capital Region—in Maryland, Virginia and The District. What this program is all about is going into the school systems and having these children talk about why their Father's are good role models for them. And then for these children to say: ‘Why is my Father the best in the world?’ Why they (the children) believe that. This is about VALUES. They are embracing values. If their father is a hard worker with good work ethics, honest, caring and demonstrates their love for them (their children)—that’s what we want to read about. Fathers that go above the call of duty to do things for the kids—even when they must make sacrifices in their own lives—that’s what this is all about.”

“We want to be a part of that. This is what The Nationals are all about. These are the values we talk about all the time as we talk about our cornerstone programs—health, recreation and education. This program is a part of education—for sure. We are helping to educate these young people through their parents—where the parents are actually demonstrating in a very visible way—what it means to be a good parent. These kids can take away from this experience—and hopefully go on to become good parents themselves and good citizens of the community.”

And also passing it on to others. (SBF)

“Yes, passing it on—that is exactly right in a very helpful way. They (the kids) are getting an understanding what it means to be helpful and to be caring—to be active in the community—helping someone else. As their fathers help them to grow up and become good citizens—they are also internalizing this. They are taking it with their grades (classes) in the schools and helping other kids help them with their homework.”

“I was reading some of the resumes here and one said how ‘My Father helped me how to do math.’—By showing this youngster how to figure out a baseball player’s batting average. This Father used statistics to actually show his son how to do that. This is the way that child learned math. So now—this particular child said he used that example in school to help his friend when he had problems with math.”

It doesn’t get better than that. (SBF)

“No, it doesn’t get better than that. And this is the type of stuff that gets my adrenaline flowing and being involved with. This is great stuff.”

And it doesn’t mean the winner of this competition has to be the perfect Father? (SBF)

“Yes, that is exactly correct. Those (traits) are some of the issues that come out in these essays. The kids will say it’s not all about winning: ‘My Father might not be always successful, he teaches me I don’t have to win at everything.’ But, there are many other values that are more important—making sure you care—making sure you are giving your time to someone else—that needs help—just being there. One of the most touching things in one of the essays was about a Father who had cancer and had actually taken time—while still sick and just out of chemotherapy. He promised his kids he would take them to Florida on a trip. He not only took them there—he drove those long hours and the kids really understood what that meant. The Father was taking them all the way to Florida—sacrificing—while he was absolutely sick and ill. He not only drove them there, he spent time with his kids while sick. He did all the things with them, the rides (at the amusement parks), the water parks—everything. This kid wrote he understood what it meant for the Father to have given of himself the way he did. The sacrifice the Father made so his kids can have a great time. That is a lesson—an everlasting lesson.”

“The kid said in his essay: ‘I will remember those times forever and ever.’ He understood somewhere down the line—there was an end coming, but those memories are going to go on for a long time to come.”

That is what parenting in all about.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Elijah Dukes' 7 kids can collaborate on an essay about him & submit it.

Anonymous said...

This was truly a compelling and heartwarming event. The synergy surrounding fathering is building in DC. Every child will have a father figure when every father is connected to the resources and training needed to be the role model and support his children need.

paul said...

Great story, thanks. I often wish many of the kids I work with have fathers around, but they don't.

I went to my first game since opening night tonight. Again, there was a long dry spell with no baserunners. It's not always a recipe for winning, although another ninth miracle almost occurred.
Without sounding like a broken record, Cristian Guzman needs to get his f____ glove on the f_____ ground. How do you catch the ball with the ball scooting and your glove six inches above? Answer: you don't. He needs to see tapes of Mark Belanger. And could he please, please, try hard for a ball? Please dive once, even if you can't get up and throw the runner out. It might set a tone for the team.

Trying to get from the upper deck to the lower reminds me of the folks on the Titanic trying to come up from steerage class. Also, it seems like a much higher percentage of seats are filled upstairs. Can we let some of these folks down to fill some of those acres of empty seats downstairs?
SBF, you commented on people walking up and down the aisles blocking views. I think the vendors are more of an issue, not even trying to duck or kneel, some of them pausing for 30 seconds to wave their wares.
But boy is the stadium beautiful, especially from behind home plate. I only wish there were more fans and some more excitement.

Metro report: Metro was running red line trains with a 12 minute interval. What's up with that? We got lucky and caught ours, but it made us think twice about switching trains in the future.