By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Officials from the Washington Nationals' charitable arm yesterday announced a $2 million donation to Children's Hospital for the creation of a diabetes care and education facility, the baseball club's most significant gift to Washington since the Lerner family assumed ownership in July.
The gift will include $1.25 million in cash and $750,000 in advertising and other benefits at RFK Stadium and the new ballpark, scheduled to open next year, officials said.
Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, chairwoman of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and daughter of principal owner Theodore N. Lerner, said that as the foundation considered potential charities, she was struck by the response of individual members of the group when she mentioned diabetes at a meeting several months ago.
"The reaction in the room, it was quiet but steady," Tanenbaum said. "But people started raising their hands and shaking their heads. 'I've got a sister.' 'I've got a cousin.' It was, I have to say, probably 80 percent in that room where we were sitting where people had a personal connection to this disease."
James W. Lintott, chairman of the Children's Hospital Foundation Board, called the gift "unbelievably generous." Since 2004, he said, hospital officials have charted a 15 percent annual increase in children's diabetes cases in the District and surrounding areas.
"This gift will transform children's health in the Washington capital area and will change thousands of lives for the better," Lintott said.
The Nationals' owners, partnering with the city, also have taken over the development of a baseball academy that will help teach the game to D.C. children, although a site hasn't been determined. That project was part of a pledge by the previous ownership, Major League Baseball.
Alphonso Maldon Jr., president of the Nationals foundation, said he and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) had traveled to Los Angeles and New York to visit academies there and generate ideas about how to establish the facility, which will also include after-school programs for kids.
The Nationals open their third season in the District tomorrow at RFK Stadium.