League 42 announces Kids First campaign, fundraising progress

The League 42 Jackie Robinson statue at McAdams Park.
The League 42 Jackie Robinson statue at McAdams Park.(KWCH 12)
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 1:32 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The League 42 Foundation on Friday its Kids First Campaign, for which the organization has raised $3.6 million toward its $6 million goal. Board Chair Matt Vos said League 42 was rewarded a $400,000 challenge grant from the JE & LE Mabee Foundation of Tulsa.

Construction of a youth education center, a fourth baseball field and renovations to three existing ballfields are the focus of the campaign with the 10,500 square foot education center, to be used for after-school tutoring for League 42 players, its centerpiece. It includes a 23-station computer lab, an indoor baseball training area/community center and the organization’s first-ever office space.

After school and during the summer, the facility will be operated by education professionals helping children focus on homework and learning.

“We are proud to announce we will be building the Leslie Rudd Education Center,” League 42 Executive Director Bob Lutz said. “The Rudd Foundation’s $1 million leadership gift will be helping Wichita children for decades to come.”

Rudd, who died in 2018, was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who owned Standard Beverage and many other businesses. In 2017, Rudd established the Rudd Scholars Program, which provides full-ride college funding scholarships, along with academic and life mentoring, for Pell-eligible Kansans seeking to attend Wichita State, Fort Hays State or Emporia State.

One hundred Kansas high school graduates have already benefited from this program.

Kids First Campaign leaders also announced the involvement of several of Wichita’s premier companies and foundations, including Cargill, Fidelity Bank, INTRUST Bank, Spirit AeroSystems, The Lattner Family Foundation, the Meyer Charitable Trust and David Murfin.

“When we started League 42 eight years ago, it was with the specific mission of using a team sport – baseball – to help kids 5 to 14,” Lutz said. “Its about more than baseball. Kids learn the values of commitment, teamwork, fair play, and personal responsibility. They build character and a can-do spirit. These are the skill sets that will serve them throughout life.”

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