MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder Denard Span knows first-hand how a Single Parent can struggle with the burden of raising responsible, caring, successful adults. And he’s intent on doing something about it.
Known for his amazing hands on both sides of the field, he’s a team player for the Rays. His teammates will tell you he’s a stand-up guy. He shows up, works hard, is on time, and is always ready to do whatever it takes to win as a team.
“Dspan” as he’s known in baseball, has a history of supporting Single Parents going back to his days as a Minnesota Twin, hosting the “Twins and Pins” bowling event which benefitted single parents. From there his interest in helping this particular group only grew stronger.
When first traded to the Washington National’s in 2012, that support continued with “Spans Fans”, bringing Single Parents and their kids to Nationals Games in Washington, DC. To the delight of all, they’re not just there to watch. He spends time talking to them, motivating them, and provides autographs to all. Besides game tickets, he feeds them, provides the soda, and gives them a day at the ball park none will ever forget. Most important, he gives them hope for a better future, proves they can do it, too, and makes dreams happen.
“It’s a good feeling when you can put smiles on other people’s faces. In the big scheme of things, it’s a small donation (of my time). For the benefit and what I get out of it, it’s worth it.”
Though he won the Carl R. Pohlad Community Service Award in Minnesota, Span doesn’t seek recognition for his off-field service to Single Parents and their families. He’s humble. For him, it’s about leading by example.
Coming from a Single Parent home, he credits his mom and God for the blessings he’s had. He saw how hard it was for her, at times working two jobs and often coming home exhausted. Money was tight, temptation was everywhere, and as every Single Parent knows, there’s no one else to lean on.