AP NEWS

Woodpeckers, partners invest in Fayetteville fans

March 21, 2019
Woodpeckers partners provide jerseys for youth teams

The Fayetteville Woodpeckers have big plans on and off the field for their first season. On Wednesday, the team announced plans to help military families and youth sports programs.

Segra Stadium is still getting some finishing touches – the home opener is about a month away – but the team already has a corporate plan in place to help the local community.

As anyone involved with youth sports knows, it’s a long way from the sandlots to the major leagues. But along the way character is built and communities are made better.

Mark Zarthar, president of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, outlined some of the known societal benefits.

“Youth sports and participation in youth sports prevents teen alcohol abuse. They encourage classroom attendance, and they also prevent childhood obesity,” he said.

That’s why the Fayetteville Woodpeckers announced the formation of the 2019 Community Leaders Program Partners. Five corporate sponsors have donated $65,000 for programs designed to help soldiers and their families and youth sports programs in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

The charity plans to buy new uniforms for 15 youth baseball and softball teams in the area.

“If you talk about 15 teams and you talk about 12 kids per team, then you can do the math. You’re looking at 200, 300 kids overall,” said Michael Gibson, director of Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation

They group also plans to fix the scoreboard for the Massey Hill Buddy Baseball program, which provides baseball and softball teams for children with special needs. That scoreboard was damaged by Hurricane Florence.

The Woodpeckers also plan to help the military by paying for children to go to summer camp at Rick’s Place in Cumberland County.

“Rick’s Place provides fun, quality, military activities for military families for the purposes of bonding and supporting relationships and community,” said spokeswoman Allegra Jordan.

It’s a big investment that will touch thousands of families and prospective Woodpeckers fans. Community Leaders Program Partners have raised $65,000 and they hole to have at least $100,000 by the end of the team’s inaugural season.

The Woodpeckers open their season on the road April 4. The home fans get their first look at the new team April 18, when they take on the Carolina Mudcats.