Casey's Clubhouse hits one out of the park for special needs kids

After MLB All-Star Sean Casey retired in 2009, he wanted to build a Miracle League baseball field for special needs kids in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

Client: Casey's Clubhouse (Pittsburgh, PA)
Agency: GatesmanMarmion+Dave (Pittsburgh, PA)
Campaign: Casey At the Bat: For Kids with Special Needs
Duration: August 2010 to present

After MLB All-Star Sean Casey retired in 2009, he wanted to build a Miracle League baseball field for special needs kids in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He founded Casey's Clubhouse last year and needed to raise $1 million to build the field. Though he'd been involved with children's charities, Casey had never raised money himself and didn't know where to start. A friend recommended GatesmanMarmion+Dave. The agency agreed to develop and execute a campaign to raise awareness, drive donations, and attract volunteers.

Shannon Baker, agency principal and director of PR and social media, says Casey's passion, enthusiasm, and personality make him a “PR dream.” He was a driving force in rallying media and activating his personal and community networks. served as the campaign hub and gave Casey a place to point potential investors. Media relations, social media outreach, and fundraisers also drove awareness and attracted donations and volunteers.

The website, a Casey's Clubhouse Facebook page, and media outreach launched August 24, 2010.

Local and national media and blogs that reach male sports fans were pitched. Special needs communities were also targeted.

Audiences were encouraged to donate, sponsor, volunteer to help a special needs child during Miracle League games, host their own fundraising events, and attend Casey's fundraising events.

Casey conducted interviews, networked locally and nationally, and used his personal Twitter page to drive messaging when appropriate.

More than 10 corporate partners and sponsors, including the Pittsburgh Pirates and FedEx, signed on.

The first fundraiser was held in early March at Pittsburgh's Library Fire Hall. Singer/songwriter Pat McCurdy performed. A silent auction included everything from sports memorabilia to items donated by local school children.

Numerous sports celebrities and Desperate Housewives star James Denton attended a March 19 fundraiser at St. Clair Country Club that featured a full-scale casino and auctions.

Event videos and TV interviews were posted on the website.

The $1 million was raised by the end of April. Groundbreaking was June 9.

Numerous schools, organizations and businesses hosted fundraisers. Upward of 250 people have volunteered.

More than 40 placements (30 million impressions) were garnered in outlets such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Baseball Digest.

Baker says the agency will continue to help for as long as it's needed. The team continues to raise money and recruit players and volunteers. A ribbon-cutting game will be held this fall. The inaugural season kicks off next spring.

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