Every twist and turn fans enjoy on the amusement rides at Modern Woodmen Park while attending Quad-Cities River Bandits games continues to help create a healthier Quad-Cities.
River Bandits owner Dave Heller presented a $100,000 check to Genesis Health System President and CEO Doug Cropper on Friday at the Genesis Birth Center, continuing the Midwest League baseball team’s support of youth and family health initiatives that has provided $350,000 in donations over the past five years.
"All of the programs these dollars support are funded 100 percent by donations, and every dollar helps elevate the level of care in the community," Cropper said. "This is a great example of a business, a family-owned business, using a creative way to benefit the entire community."
All of the proceeds from tickets sold to the Genesis Kidz Koaster, as well as a portion of ticket proceeds from the Ferris wheel, Drop-N-Twist, spinning bumper cars, River Rocker and kiddie train at Modern Woodmen Park are donated by the River Bandits to help fund four programs at Genesis.
The dollars support three programs overseen by the Genesis Foundation: the Genesis neonatal intensive care unit; the Genesis Flu-Free Quad-Cities program, which provides no-cost flu shots for more than 8,000 school-aged children; and the Camp Genesis program for kids experiencing cancer in their families.
River Bandits donation dollars are also being used to support the Genesis Family Connects program overseen by Genesis Philanthropy.
That program facilitates home visits by nurses for the parents of newborn children, assessing in-home needs of mothers and newborns with a goal of creating healthy environments for young children.
Cropper said education and assistance provided by the relatively new Family Connects program has resulted in a desired 12-percent reduction in emergency room visits by infants and young children in 2017 and 2018.
"There is nothing more important than the care and health of children," Heller said. "We’ve made it our No. 1 charitable activity, and we’re so pleased that for the second year in a row we have been able to write a check for $100,000 to help make the Quad-Cities a healthier place."
Cropper said Genesis is proud of its long-term relationship with the River Bandits, which began decades ago but has accelerated since Heller purchased the team.
"The emphasis on children in the River Bandits’ gift is appreciated and makes a significant difference in our community," Cropper said.
Heller said the donation to the neonatal intensive care unit hits home. Both of his sons were born in neonatal care units.
"We’ve been blessed to be able to have the resources for our children to receive outstanding care, and all of us in the River Bandits family want other Quad-Cities families to be able to receive the same type of care," Heller said.
The River Bandits organization has donated more dollars to charity than any other Class A club in minor-league baseball in each of the past two years and has ranked in the top five among all 120 full-season teams in charitable giving, trailing only four teams in Double-A and Triple-A markets.
The Quad-Cities club topped $600,000 in charitable donations in both 2017 and 2018, building on and adding to programs that Heller believes are at the core of what his organization is about.
"We’re proud that the River Bandits have been able to set an example for other organizations in minor-league baseball," Heller said. "We’re invested in our community, involved in our community and, with the support of our community, we are able to make things like this happen."