ATLANTA — Though he is still learning the many different ways he can assist as the spokesman for Athletes Curing Kids’ Cancer, All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel has already made enough of an impact on the Atlanta community to be named the Braves’ nominee for this year’s Roberto Clemente Award.
“At this point, I’m still figuring out what I can do and who to help,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been fun figuring that out over the past few years. I’ve come to learn that you can do a lot more than you think you can if you just try.”
Wednesday is Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, a day instituted on the 30th anniversary of his passing in 1972 to keep alive Clemente’s spirit of giving.
Beginning Wednesday, fans will be able to go to MLB.com/ClementeAward to decide which of this year’s 30 club winners will receive this prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. The nominees were chosen based on their dedication to giving back to the community, as well as their outstanding ability on the field. Voting will end on Oct. 6.
“My wife [Ashley] and I do as much as we can to help,” Kimbrel said. “Our time is limited and affects how much we can actually help. But when we get the chance, we do.”
Many members of the baseball world have come to recognize Kimbrel as the only pitcher in Major League history to notch at least 40 saves during each of his first four full seasons. Clay and Grainne Owen have come to know Kimbrel as a kind-hearted, generous individual who has proven to be the perfect spokesperson for their charity, Curing Kids’ Cancer.
“We just feel so blessed,” Grainne told MLB.com last winter. “We really do. If I had written down all of the qualities I wanted in somebody, I couldn’t have found anyone any better.”
The Owens started their charity in 2004, one year after their 9-year-old son Killian died of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, which has become recognized as the most common and curable type of childhood cancer.
During his 4 1/2-year battle with this disease, Killian underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He also received experimental targeted treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
“They are great people,” Kimbrel said. “They’re only focus is to raise money to come with better research. They send their own doctors through schooling to come up with new cures and learn more about pediatric cancer, which is so different than regular cancer, but they treat it the same. We see that as a problem, because how are you going to treat a child like an adult, because a child’s body can’t withstand the same amount of stress that an adult body can.”