These days it seems as if athletes are suffering from a crisis of character. Whether it’s questionable conduct related to the game, such as deflate-gate and biogenesis, or off the field transgressions ranging from allegations of domestic abuse to sexual assault, it appears that conduct unbecoming is running rampant. That’s why it’s all the more refreshing to find an athlete who is a hall of famer both on and off the field in the form of Albert Pujols. The on-field accomplishments are well known. When you can put 2001 NL Rookie of the Year, two-time World Series champ, nine-time All Star on your resume, there is no doubt you are punching a ticket to Cooperstown. Yet, this is only half of the Albert Pujols success story, for it’s his off field endeavors that truly make him an all-star.
This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the Pujols Family Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created by Pujols, his wife Deirdre and Todd Perry. We had a chance to catch up with co-founders Pujols and Perry who shared with ‘LLERO the inspiration for the foundation, its work and what the future may hold over the next 10 years.
Inspired by Albert Pujols daughter who has Down syndrome as well as the conditions of his native Dominican Republic, Pujols, his wife Deirdre and Perry set out to create what Pujol’s notes as “a public charity that would reflect our values and passions.” For Pujols the mission is clear.
“The mission statement for the PFF is simple: Faith, Family and Others. We celebrate the lives of people with Down syndrome and also do mission work in my native country, the Dominican Republic.”
It is a sentiment that Perry echoes as the reason for his involvement “it was pretty easy to understand the things that mattered most to Albert and Deirdre, and then saying ‘hey,’ what if there was a foundation or a voice for those things? That was the catalyst that started it.”
Lest you think this is just a vanity project made up solely of fancy black-tie fundraisers, think again. As Pujols shared “the Pujols Family Foundation will host over 100 events in five cities, three states, and two countries this year.” However, what the foundation has accomplished since its inception is even more impressive. Through a concerted effort to create programming, which provides immediate and tangible results, the foundation has provided events ranging from self-defense classes for new mothers, father and son bowling and fishing trips and an annual prom for students with Down syndrome. It has also crossed borders with its relief efforts in the Dominican Republic, which have included medical missions to provide free optometry services, delivery of mattresses, building baseball fields and free clinics.