Jim Thome's Community Involvement
Thome was chosen as The Sporting News “No. 1 Good Guy” in Major League Baseball in 2005 for his fundraising efforts in his native Peoria, Ill. He also was the recipient of the 2005 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, presented annually by the Phi Delta Theta fraternity to the Major League Baseball Player who best exemplifies the giving character of the Hall of Famer. The award was first presented in 1955 and is permanently maintained at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Thome was the 2002 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, presented annually to the Major League Baseball player who exemplifies Clemente’s passion for the game, sportsmanship and community involvement. With the honor, John Hancock Financial Services made a $25,000 donation in his name to the Steve Palermo Chapter of the National Paralysis Foundation in Leawood, Kan. Thome’s nephew, Brandon, is currently unable to walk after bruising his spinal cord in June 2001.
Named the Marvin Miller “Man of the Year” in 2001 by the MLBPA for his numerous efforts in the community, Thome served as honorary co-chairman of the United Way Home Run Derby from 1998-2002. The program has helped raise approximately $200,000 for the United Way’s youth programs since 1996.
Thome has raised more than $1,000,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria and hosted the 12th annual “Night with Jim Thome” dinner in January 2007 which raised approximately an event-record $205,000. He also hosts a golf tournament in Peoria each year to benefit the hospital.
He is also involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, granting wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. On several occasions in December, Thome has dressed as Santa Claus and visited hospitals and non-profit agencies, purchasing and distributing toys for child patients. Thome has a street named after him in Peoria and purchased a scoreboard for his high school baseball field.
Since 2004, Jim and his wife, Andrea, serve as honorary board members on the Tug McGraw Foundation, which helps offer quality of life and research opportunities to people suffering from brain tumors. The couple has been title sponsors and actively involved with Fieldstone Farm/The Therapeutic Riding Center in Cleveland, a facility that helps mentally and physically challenged people with horses and riding.
The couple has substantially supported the following organizations in the Cleveland area for the past five to seven years: NearWest Theatre (an inner-city youth theatre group), The Cleveland Foodbank and Adopt-A-Greyhound. They recently became capital donors to the Cleveland Clinic’s new “Health and Wellness Fund” and Facility. Jim has a personal relationship with the head of the clinic, who oversees the allocation of the Thomes’ three-year commitment at $50,000 per year.
Thome participated in the First Energy Grand Slam Summer Literacy Program with Andrea, and served as the team’s honorary captain for CapCure for Prostate Cancer Awareness in 2001. He and Andrea have also made significant contributions to the Maternity Care Coalition and Easter Seals.
As members of the Phillies, the couple on many occasions donated their suite at Citizens Bank Park to charitable organizations in the Philadelphia region. Thome started a new program in 2005 with the Philadelphia Food Bank called “Home Runs For Hunger” in which donations were made to the Food Bank based on his home runs. At the April 18 press conference, presented the Food Bank with a check for $25,000.
In addition, he served as 2003 Chairman of the Phillies Phundamentals after-school programs for inner city children. Thome was named 2003 Pro Athlete of the Year and 2004 Media Good Guy, both by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association.
Thome did public service announcements for Children’s Miracle Network, the Lupus Foundation, United Way, United Cerebral Palsy, The National Conference for Community & Justice and Ohio’s “Buckle Up” Public Safety Campaign. He also distributed toys to Cleveland-area youths at Christmas from 1998-2001 and made annual donations to Cleveland Indians Charities to fund the event.