9/13 Dempster is Cubs’ Clemente nominee

Ryan Dempster was named the Cubs’ 2011 nominee for the Roberto Clemente award on Tuesday. Dempster is one of the 30 club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a Major League player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. Wednesday marks the 10th annual Roberto Clemente Day, established by MLB, to honor Clemente’s legacy and to officially recognize local club nominees of the award.

Dempster has been actively involved in charitable giving throughout his 17-year pro career. Since 2006, his ticket program, “Dempster’s Dugout,” has hosted more than 2,500 underprivileged kids to a Cubs game. On Mother’s Day, he invites breast cancer survivors and their families to the ballpark. On Father’s Day, he invites family members of fans serving in the military to catch a game.

On April 1, 2009, Ryan and wife Jenny welcomed daughter Riley into the world. She was diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome, and in response, the family created the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation to raise awareness of the disorder, reach out to families with children suffering from it, and support any charities connected with it. In 2010, the foundation awarded $185,600 in grants to 14 charitable organizations. The Cubs and Dempster made April 22, 2011, “22q Day at the Ballpark” and hosted more than 150 kids and their families who either have the disorder or support the awareness. The Dodgers and the Braves also dedicated a day to the fight and awareness of 22q. On May 22, 2011, 65 different zoos across nine countries on three continents named that day “22q at the Zoo – World Awareness Day.”

Earlier this year, Dempster teamed up with Yankees pitcher David Robertson to help a family in Tuscaloosa, Ala., whose home had been destroyed during a devastating tornado. The family was brought to Dempster’s attention because their young child battles DiGeorge Syndrome. At the Dempster’s second Casino Night, held in July, they sold an autographed Babe Ruth baseball for $22,000, and that money was donated to the family.

“Ryan epitomizes the charitable role model that we hope all MLB players can become,” said Cubs interim GM Randy Bush. “We urge all baseball fans to recognize him as the 2011 national Roberto Clemente Award recipient.”

— Carrie Muskat

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