The Detroit Tigers opened up the 2014 regular season at Comerica Park back on March 31. But nearly a week later, it was a different type of Opening Day. April 6 was Kids Opening Day in Downtown Detroit. Put together by Duffey Petrosky and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, in association with 97.1 The Ticket, Fox Sports Detroit and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, four local youth sports organizations were invited to participate in the event.
Twenty-two girls from Detroit PAL and 2014 PAL Youth of the Year Rashad Williams, as well as kids from Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and HYPE Athletics were treated to a day full of fun activities. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Tigers made health, fitness and the fight against childhood obesity the focus of the day.
Upon entering Comerica Park, the kids received BCBSM/Tigers cheer cards, which included helpful information for both kids and their parents about the importance of eating healthy and living an active lifestyle. About a half an hour before game time, all of the nearly 200 kids at the game because of Duffey Petrosky and BCBSM rushed the field for a pregame warm-up. They were led by the Detroit Tigers’ training staff in an array of fitness activities – from push-ups to jumping jacks and plenty in between.
“It was fun running and stretching out on the field,” said Detroit PAL volleyball player Des’Cini Welch. She said being shown on the stadium’s massive LED display was cool, too.
After the warm-up, the PAL kids made their way back to their seats, but not before stopping to pick up a nutritious lunch that BCBSM provided. Then it was time for the game, which was the first that Des’Cini got to see at the ballpark. She said visiting Comerica Park and seeing a Tigers game in-person for the first time was an awesome and exciting experience. To conclude the day’s activities, kids had the opportunity to run the bases, which only added to Des’Cini’s and the rest of the PAL kids’ experience.
“I think this is a great experience for the kids,” fifth-year Detroit PAL volleyball coach Monya Grantham said. “I’m really excited for the girls because for some of them this is their only chance of going to a Tigers game. This is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. The girls were really excited and they had a good time.”
Grantham praised Duffey Petrosky and BCBSM for their commitment to the community and allowing kids to experience such a wonderful day. She added that BCBSM “teaching [kids] how to eat right and exercise is really good.”
The takeaway of the day was health. And baseball, an activity that can be a part of a healthy and active lifestyle, served as the backdrop. Des’Cini recognized that and the importance of the day’s lessons and activities. “Kids should have nutritious diets,” she said. “Because most kids don’t have nutritious foods and some are obese. If the kids are inspired to be active, work out and have nutritious meals, [then] they will be fit and want to do a lot of athletic stuff.”