Red Sox minor leaguer starts fundraiser for Sandy victims

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Red Sox minor leaguer starts fundraiser for Sandy victims

When the power finally came back on, five days after Hurricane Sandy battered a huge swath of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and he was able to get outside and see the devastation wrought on his hometown, Jayson Hernandez was overwhelmed. He knew he had to do something.

All of last week we had no power, said Hernandez, the Red Sox minor league catcher who grew up in Jackson, NJ.

It really gives you a lot of time to think. Just hearing the stories and seeing in my neighborhood alone, the kind of damage that was done, it really got to me and my girlfriend who was with me. We started thinking, What can we do? Late Friday night we were all hanging out, my family, my girlfriend, and I, and we thought maybe wed try to get some money together and we can donate it to the Red Cross or something.

The brainchild of that desire is Grand Slam for Sandy, christened by Hernandezs girlfriend. On Saturday, they had collected about 500. So far, with the help of some other Red Sox minor leaguers, along with fellow New Jersey natives Ryan Kalish and Andrew Bailey, that amount is over 3,000.

Hernandez, who split 2012 between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, was drafted in the 41st round of the 2010 draft out of Rutgers. He went to high school at St. Rose in Belmar, NJ, where one of his teammates and closest friends was Anthony Ranaudo, the right-hander who was the Sox third pick in the first round (39th overall) in 2010. Ranaudo and right-hander Pat Light, the Sox third pick in the first round (37th overall), immediately joined Hernandez to help raise money.

This is my home, Light said. I grew up here. Ill continue to be here. Ive always thought I would raise a family here. Its extremely important to me to help rebuild my home. And any help that we can get will be extremely appreciated.

But, it will be a long time before the New Jersey they know returns.

Its pretty tough right now, Hernandez said. I was lucky to get power back after only a week. But I know theres a lot of people still without power. A lot of people lost everything. Anthony and I both went to high school in Belmar, NJ, two blocks from the beach. I had a chance to go down to Belmar on Sunday and Monday and get down to the shoreline, to the boardwalk where we practically grew up. And its gone. Everything is gone. The boardwalk is completely gone. Theres houses that are completely gone. Sand from the beach is five block up. And, honestly, its just an unbelievable sight.

Being down there those two days and driving through the streets, my girlfriend and I were dead silent. We couldnt even say a word because the amount of damage was unbelievable. But the upside of it was it was incredible to see how many people were in the streets helping out, whether it was just raking mud out of the way, helping somebody pump some water out of their house. It was unbelievable to see the kind of response that New Jersey has generated. I think a lot of people, especially local people down here, even if they did lose everything, a lot of people have a sense of pride of taking care of their own and taking care of their community. So thats very humbling and its amazing to see that.

Light considers himself fortunate that his house is still standing.

Its been rough, he said. I just got power back Tuesday night. So it was about nine days without power. It was quite cold in my house. Id go to bed and wake up in the morning freezing because it was about 32 degrees in the house. Its been tough. But the power came on last night just in time for this other storm that we got here now. Its been a tough week and a half. But well make it.

Its that sense of resiliency, along with whatever funds they can raise, that will help them rebuild.

I think the message is us as a whole and us as a country, when we work together and really do things out of the goodness of our hearts great things can come out of that, Hernandez said. And I think its showing right now.

After this tragedy it really shows the character of the people down here. And it shows that there are a lot of good people out there and a lot of people that are willing to donate stuff and give money and give time, even when they dont have that money and even when they dont have that time.

The Portland Sea Dogs are donating 1 from every ticket they sell from Wednesday through Friday to Hernandezs fundraising effort.

Jayson was such a huge presence in the Portland community last year, said Sea Dogs assistant general manager Chris Cameron. He didnt play a lot but he volunteered for everything whether it was clinics, going to schools, he did everything. And when we saw that he was leading this fundraising effort we wanted to help out him and his community. So we decided wed donate a portion of ticket sales over the next few days and try to help them out.

Hernandez has established several ways to donate to Grand Slam for Sandy:

By mail, makes check payable to Grand Slam for Sandy and mail to:

Grand Slam for Sandy
PO Box 589
Jackson, NJ 08527

By PayPal, use: jayhernan24@gmail.com
By FacebookGrandSlam4Sandy, use the Donate button (which should be active soon, if it isnt yet).

Hernandez is also looking for someone who can help set up and maintain a web page. Contact him by email at jayhernan24@live.com, if you can help.

Help. Thats all hes asking.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Raptors missing Lowry in first half

TORONTO -- Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half which ended with the Boston Celtics ahead 55-45 over the Toronto Raptors.

STARS

DeMar DeRozan

Playing without Kyle Lowry (right wrist), DeRozan made the most of what, not surprisingly, were a few more shot attempts. He led all scorers with 19 first-half points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

The strong play by Thomas prior to the All-Star break, hasn't gone anywhere. He led the Celtics with 11 points in the first half on 3-for-7 shooting along with four assists.

 

STUDS

Jonas Valanciunas

Boston had problems throughout the first half keeping him off the boards as he tallied five points and a game-high six rebounds.

Jaylen Brown

The rookie showed a heightened level of maturity at both ends of the floor, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

 

DUDS

Corey Joseph

We all know he's not Kyle Lowry, but he has to do a better job of filling in for the All-Star than what we saw in the first half if the Raptors are to have any shot at rallying tonight. He was scoreless in 17 minutes, missing all three of his shots from the field. 

Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

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Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

It’s only a coincidence that it will air the same week that the Boston Bruins went Hollywood with their annual three-game road trip through California, but David Backes and his wife Kelly are going to get some solid TV time this weekend. The animal-loving couple are going to be featured Saturday night in the all-new Animal Planet special "Stars to the Rescue," which highlights the Backes family’s excellent work to ensure every animal has a ‘furever’ home.

The lifelong animal lovers have adopted five rescue pets that all made the move from St. Louis to Boston this summer, and launched Athletes for Animals in 2013, a non-profit organization supporting professional athletes and animal advocacy efforts. The 32-year-old Backes chose a Boston animal shelter as his first setting to meet with the Boston media this summer after signing with the Bruins in free agency, and spoke glowingly about his inspiration for marrying two of his passions: helping animals and sports.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," said Backes, the proud owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty and Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly). "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said, ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

The “Stars to the Rescue” special premieres on Saturday night at 8 pm on Animal Planet where there will be a full segment on the Backes family, but here’s a clip where Backes talks about his well-publicized involvement with a number of stray dog rescues during his 2014 Olympic Hockey stint with Team USA in Sochi, Russia.

Backes isn’t the only Boston athlete featured during the Animal Planet special as it also chronicles the stories of other well-known athletes and celebrities and the dogs they can't live without: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Baltimore Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley, Selma Blair, ESPN Correspondent Michelle Beadle, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and more. From training buddies to comforting companions, “Stars to the Rescue” shows first-hand how these celebrities first met their cute rescued canines and how their dogs have impacted and transformed their lives for the better.