The University of Wisconsin partnered with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation this weekend for a program intending to provide direction for disadvantaged Wisconsin youth.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation hosted an event through the Badges for Baseball program on Oct. 13, giving “at risk” children an opportunity to listen to guest speakers and to visit the landmarks of the UW campus.
The foundation is named after the former Baltimore Orioles manager.
The foundation, according to its mission, is a nation-wide program using baseball and softball to instill life lessons and build character in “distressed American communities.”
According to staff member Flynn Burch, the foundation is intended to build major league “people,” not necessarily major league players.
Van Hollen, who was one of the event’s two guest speakers, said the Badges for Baseball program was developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and focuses on creating positive relationships between law-enforcement mentors and community-based youth organizations.
Van Hollen, as well as another second guest speaker UW Director of Admissions and Recruitment Adele Brumfield, both spoke about the importance of “dreaming big” and seizing opportunities.
Brumfield, a Milwaukee native, shared her childhood experiences in an effort to contextualize the “dream big” idea.
“I was the first person in my family to go to college, and I never would have imagined that I would be the one searching the nation and searching the world to find all the best minds to recruit to UW,” Brumfield said. “And I believe that if you have big dreams and step out of your comfort zone, you too can do great things.”
Van Hollen, an advocate for youth across Wisconsin and across the country, also spoke about working hard to realize dreams in education, athletics and life.
In an effort to provide an example of a role model, Brumfield added the kids in the program should strive to follow in the footsteps of Cal Ripken, Sr.
“No job was too small or too big for Cal Ripken, Sr.,” Brumfield said. “He was willing to do anything. Sometimes we think we’re too good for certain things, but [Cal Ripken, Sr.] knew — and we should know — that you can learn lessons from everything.”
According to Van Hollen, the collaboration between law enforcement, sports and universities makes Badges for Baseball a uniquely important event.
According to Van Hollen, because of the collaborations, the program is a community-based organization that peaks children’s interests and provides them with a view of what they could experience and what they could achieve through a college education.
“My primary focus is on kids, protecting our children and giving them a real chance is the best thing we can do, and Badges for Baseball can give them this unique opportunity. I’m proud that we get the chance to do this,” Van Hollen said.