By Shannon Drayer
On any given night in Seattle up to 1,000 kids may be on the streets homeless for various reasons. This year, in order to raise funds and awareness of the growing problem, United Way invites you to join them for the All-Star Softball Classic for Homeless Youth at Safeco Field.
710 ESPN Seattle, KIRO Radio and AM 770 are sponsors of the event with Bob Stelton and Don O'Neill actually participating as players. While their experience on the ball field may be limited, they will be playing alongside Mariners Hall of Fame members Dan Wilson, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez.
"I'm curious to see what it is going to be like out there," joked Wilson, who said the event will mark the first time since their retirements the three have been on a baseball field together. "My team against Jay's team? He's pretty excited. We are going to go at it pretty hard but it's going to be a lot of fun."
On a serious note, the cause is near and dear to Wilson and his wife Annie. The two are chairing the event and their children will also be volunteering. Dan and Annie have been involved in helping homeless youth almost from the first day they arrived in Seattle, first with their work at First Place School and then with their increased involvement with United Way.
"We have had the opportunity to meet a lot of great agencies in Seattle and United Way supports a lot of agencies in Seattle that are really working together on this problem and I think we are really on the cusp of really making a difference in this arena," said Wilson. "Now youth homelessness is something they want to tackle and really, to have a 1,000 kids on the street there is no excuse for that. This is a chance for all of us to come together and really make a difference."
You can help, too. Tickets for the event, which takes place at Safeco Field this Saturday, are only $10. Among those scheduled to appear and play are Gary Payton, Golden Tate, Kate Wedge, Detlef Schrempf, Slick Watts, Steve Zakuani, Jeff Ament and more. A concert by Seattle band The Young Evils will follow the game.
"It's going to be a great family event. Kids serving kids. It is just going to be fun all around," said Wilson.
For information and to purchase tickets log on to the United Way's website. Come out to the park and see some old friends mix it up on the softball field and help make a difference in the lives of homeless youth.