The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the more involved teams in the community, whether it be their own foundation or one of the charities set up by one of their own players.
Earlier this year, the Dodgers opened a new baseball field that was handicap-accessible and outfielder Joc Pederson’s brother, Champ, was on-hand to help present the field. Champ Pederson has Down syndrome and travels around as a motivational speaker.
Last week, the brothers were at Dodger Stadium to announce their latest venture. Teaming up with New Era, the Pedersons unveiled a new hat to be sold exclusively at Dodger Stadium and promote the “Live Like A Champ” motto. Joc talked about the exciting collaboration. “I want to thank the Dodgers and New Era for coming together for this,” he said. “My family is fired up we could make this work out, and we’re excited.”
The Dodgers Rookie of the Year candidate displayed the emotion that comes from his older brother. “I think our family wouldn’t be who we are without Champ, he kind of brings us all together,” Pederson said. “This is just a small thing that’s going to bring us closer. We’re just trying to support him and Best Buddies is a great cause.”
Best Buddies is a non-profit that helps create opportunities for those with disabilities. The hats will be sold at Dodger Stadium only and 31 percent of the proceeds will go to Best Buddies.
Champ was excited about the idea and was quick to give the credit to the one that helped make it happen. “I give my mom a lot of credit for this,” he said. Champ went on to add that he’s a “warrior” and it has shown.
The older Pederson brother took some of the spotlight from his younger brother at the Home Run Derby when Joc was set to face Albert Pujols. Champ revealed that Pujols was his favorite player before his brother was in the Majors, but made sure that everyone knew he was rooting for Joc. Pujols has a foundation that helps those with Down syndrome, as one of his daughter’s has Down syndrome.
Joc went into detail about his brother and others he has met with the disability. “It’s more so when you’re around Champ or other people with Down syndrome, they always put a smile on your face,” the 23-year-old said. “They never feel down about themselves, they’re enjoying life and they bring happiness. So, don’t feel bad for yourself. Take on the day and ‘Live like a Champ.’ There’s no excuses, just get it done and have fun doing it. It’s kind of the family motto and Champ brings that to our family every day.”
Joc was also in attendance at the revealing of the handicap-accessible stadium and made it clear that he supported his brother just as much as Champs supports him. “Throughout middle school and high school, Champ participated in swimming, hockey, basketball, Special Olympics and a bunch of different events,” Joc said.
“When we were playing he would always support us, so we’d go support him and help coach or maybe just be in the stands, or alongside the pool cheering him on. It’s just understanding that one moment or one weekend that he gets to participate and compete against other competitors is what a lot of people take for granted. It just shows us we can’t take it for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.”
The hats will be on sale exclusively in the Dodger Stadium New Era stores during the homestand.