One of the most popular Atlanta Braves players ever will be in Cleveland on Wednesday, Aug. 15 to help United Way of Bradley County officially kick off its annual campaign.
Future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz will be the speaker for the United Way’s Campaign Kickoff Luncheon, which will be held at the Paul Dana Walker Arena on the campus of Lee University. The luncheon is the traditional beginning of the United Way of Bradley County campaign.
“Ever since their move from Milwaukee to Atlanta, Cleveland and Bradley have followed the Braves, through the lean years and then into their great run of pennants in the 1990’s up to today,” said United Way of Bradley County Chairman Cameron Fisher.
“I got hooked watching them in the Dale Murphy years, and continue to follow them today. John Smoltz, along with (Greg) Maddux and (Tom) Glavine, anchored that unforgettable era of 14 straight playoff appearances. We are so excited to have him here in Cleveland to help us kick off our United Way campaign.”
Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine have been called one of the greatest, if not the greatest, pitching trios in major league baseball history. All three are Cy Young award winners, members of the 3,000 strike-out club, multi-time All-Stars, and World Series Champions.
Smoltz made his major league debut, after being traded to the Braves from the Detroit Tigers, on June 23, 1988, and spent 20 years with the Braves.
In 2002, he became only the second pitcher in history to have had a 20-win season and a 50-save season, and is the only pitcher to have recorded over 200 wins and 150 saves in a career.
Smoltz’s number 29 will be retired by the Atlanta Braves before their game with the Toronto Blue Jays on June 8.
“He has won several individual awards on the field, and with the team, but he has also been recognized by major league baseball for his community involvement,” Fisher noted.
“He has won the Roberto Clemente Award and the Branch Rickey Award, both for his work charitable work in the Atlanta area.”
Coincidentally, the Branch Rickey Award was created by the Rotary Club of Denver. The Rotary Club of Cleveland and Kiwanis Club of Cleveland co-host the United Way kickoff luncheon, and the national United Way organization was created in the city of Denver.
“John is a good friend, and I am glad that he will be joining us to kick off our campaign,” said United Way Campaign Co-Chair Richie Hughes.
“He has a heart for helping people, through his foundation, and I can’t think of a better person to help us in our endeavors to raise funds and help others in our community.”
Campaign Co-Chair Debbie Melton is also excited to have Smoltz attend the kickoff luncheon.
“I understand that while he is a very caring person, on the field John Smoltz is a very determined competitor and a great motivator,” she said.
“I am certain that he will get our companies, our solicitors, our volunteers, and the entire community, pumped up for our United Way campaign.”
The kickoff luncheon will also feature results from Pacesetter and Challenger firms. Pacesetters are companies that conduct early campaigns and have their totals reported at the luncheon. Challenger firms also pledge to attempt to raise 10 percent more in contributions than the previous year’s campaign.
Tickets for the event will go on sale to the general public on July 12. Reservations will be required.
More information on the event will be announced in the coming weeks.