SURPRISE – Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Moore has teamed up with Project Hero to donate $50 per strikeout and match any donation up to $10,000.
“Realizing I can help out in that way was an easy decision,” Moore said.
Project Hero is a non-profit organization, founded by John Wordin in 2008, that uses cycling to help veterans and first responders increase awareness for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries, recovery and resilience in their daily lives.
Moore did the same fundraiser last year as a member of the San Francisco Giants.
“What Matt is doing to help raise awareness and help raise money for the cause of fighting PTSD is just awesome,” Wordin said.
Moore has long been a big supporter of the military. His dad spent 23 years in the Air Force.
When Moore was a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, he was named honorary starter for Project Hero’s Honor Ride a few years ago.
The Honor Ride is an annual event Project Hero puts on in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area to raise awareness for veterans and first responders suffering from mental illness. The event is made up of 500 to 600 cyclists that ride the surrounding areas.
Wordin said he and Moore “immediately connected” that day on stage.
Shortly after they met, Moore reached out to Wordin on behalf of his childhood best friend, who served in the Army, was going through some hardships at home and needed immediate help.
The immediate results Moore’s friend experienced by going to Project Hero made Moore want to donate and work closely with the program.
Project Hero has helped reduce patients’ PTSD-related stress attacks by 75 percent and helped 62 percent of its patients reduce or eliminate their prescription drug use, Wordin said.
Moore said he didn’t come up with the idea of the fundraiser, stressing it was more of a group effort. But Wordin gave Moore the credit without any hesitation.
“Remembering those people deployed is something the organization is really trying to push now,” Moore said.
“Realizing while we are in our daily lives and our daily routines there (are) people protecting the right for us to have those free choices.”
It’s not unusual to see professional athletes shaking hands with men or women in military uniform, taking pictures and thanking them for their service.
“All the dedication, the discipline, the hard work, all the physical conditioning, mental preparation, all those things you do as an athlete, the military guys do the exact same thing,” Wordin said. “I think that is why they relate; they understand all the intrinsic comradery, the sacrifice, the dedication, the discipline, the mental toughness that it takes to be successful is something most general public people can’t relate.”
Peter Bylsma, the director of marketing and communications for Project Hero, draws comparisons between the two.
“To make sure that your teammate is at their best, of course, because your life depends on that,” Bylsma said. “The same is true, of course, to get championship results at the professional athlete level.”
There are obvious risks that baseball players — or other athletes — don’t have to face.
“The athletes appreciate the military guys even more because of the risk that military guys volunteer for,” Wordin said.
Moore will always be able to look past the fame and glory that baseball brings to recognize the sacrifices made by service members around the world.
“I’m an athlete by profession but I just consider myself an everyday citizen,” Moore said. “(I) still feel very fortunate to have those people out there on our behalf every day.”