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Whitecaps, YMCA team up to bring baseball to local kids

Once again The West Michigan Whitecaps and YMCA are teaming up provide a free baseball program for local kids.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Back again for the 25th year, the Inner-City Youth Baseball and Softball (ICYBS) program gets kids back on the diamonds this summer.

The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids has teamed up with the West Michigan Whitecaps Community Foundation, along with Fifth Third Bank, Meijer and Grand Rapids Pars and Recreation to kick-off the season with the annual Give-a-Glove Drive.

The Give-a-Glove Drive helps kids participating in the ICYBS program get the equipment they'll need to play for free. The Give-a-Glove Drive, which will run from May 16 through June 18, collects new or gently used baseball and softball gloves. Anyone who donates a glove receives four lawn tickets to a 2019 West Michigan Whitecaps’ home game and one free guest pass to any YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids location. The goal this year: 500 gloves.

The campaign will kick-off with a brief press conference held at Ted Rasberry Field at 4:30 p.m. May 15. There will also be a celebrity T-ball game which will include media personalities, local baseball legends, community leaders and kids from the ICYBS. The celebrity T-ball game is open to the public and will also feature kids’ activities, petting zoo, face painting, games and food.

The ICYBS program is free for inner-city kids ages 6 to 14 that holds games at seven neighborhood parks—Riverside Park, Richmond Park, Sibley Elementary, Aberdeen Park, Ted Rasberry Field, Plaster Creek Park, and Martin Luther King Park. The program has grown from 384 children in its first year to nearly 1,200 participants in 2018.  Along with the children, the program saw more than 47 coaches volunteer over 1,528 hours of their time. Kids and families are also served free meals on game nights.

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