ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays will kick off their Rays Up For Education campaign on Sept. 7, with star third baseman Evan Longoria as the program’s ambassador.
The Rays Up for Our Community campaign has been running all summer long, with specific focuses on four key areas: Rays Up for Kids, Rays Up for Our Heroes, Rays Up for Health and Rays Up for Education.
Each campaign has been led by various team ambassadors, who have filmed a public service announcement for their specific campaigns and have taken part in various community activities. Each campaign has lasted two weeks, and Rays Up for Education will be running from Sept. 7-20. Also, every game during the campaign will highlight a partner agency “Everyday MVP” on the telecast and social media.
“More than anything we’re just trying to bring some greater visibility to a lot of the everyday heroes in our community who are working to improve our education system,” said Brian Auld, president of the Rays.
This includes elementary school all the way through college, Auld noted, adding that among other things, the Rays will be recognizing their partnership with the University of South Florida, highlighting their Reading with the Rays program and giving away a handful of scholarships.
Auld pointed out that although Longoria is the Rays Up for Education ambassador, a number of Rays players such as pitcher Chris Archer are involved in lending their time and doing their part for the local school systems.
“We just want to draw attention to great teachers, great principals, great administrators who are making a difference,” Auld said.
For the future, Auld believes that the Rays as a baseball team will be finding new and better ways to support our educational organizations. Auld, who began his career as a fourth grade teacher, said Rays Up for Education is “particularly near and dear” to him, adding that teaching and working for the Rays are the only jobs he’s had. As an executive in the Rays organization, he has been a part of the team’s Bay area playground building initiatives, which aim to enrich the lives of area youngsters.
“I’d like the opportunity to give back,” Auld said. “I know I learned a lot through my experience teaching.”