Colorado Rockies: Mike Dunn giving back to veterans and military families
By Kevin Henry
There are certain days, like Memorial Day, where members of our military are recognized for their sacrifices. Colorado Rockies reliever Mike Dunn is doing his part to make sure that that recognition extends just beyond federal holidays.
Dunn, signed in the offseason by the Rockies after six seasons with the Florida/Miami Marlins, became involved with the military during his time in south Florida. It made an immediate impact on him.
"“We were doing FanFest in 2012, I believe. A part of it was going fishing with some veterans through the Shake a Leg Foundation in Miami,” Dunn told Rox Pile. “I was one of the guys who got to go with them and spend the day with them on the water and talk to them. I always had an appreciation for the military but after that trip it sunk in and I wanted to be able to give back.”"
From there, Dunn said his desire to work more with military families grew.
"“The military and their families and the veterans who are back is where I wanted to focus my energy,” Dunn explained. “We’ve worked through a few different organizations in Miami like Little Warriors and Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Here, we’re leaving it open. There is a lot going on around here in Denver (with the military) so we’re leaving it open for everyone out here.”"
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Now that Dunn is a member of the Rockies, he is working with Colorado’s front office to make sure local military families are recognized as well.
He is continuing a program he established in 2013 as a member of the Marlins in which he will host individuals and families with military ties at select Monday home games. He will host guests for a total of eight games this season, providing them with tickets and passes to be on the field during Rockies batting practice. Dunn also has a meet-and-greet on the field with these fans, and presents them with a commemorative coin.
"“It’s just something I was able to continue here and I love it. I feel like I can give back by bringing them out to a baseball game and letting them meet players and just enjoy a day,” Dunn said. “You go out there and talk to them. You spend 15 or 20 minutes with them. Some groups open up more than other groups. You just talk to them about whatever they want to talk about. I’m not trying to drive the conversation. If they want to open up, they open up. If not, no big deal.“I have a challenge coin that I give to everyone who comes. For the kids, it’s for when their parents come back. It gives them something to bond with with their parents. I’ve collected challenge coins through this as well. That’s an honor.“For me, it’s a lot of fun talking to them, whether it’s about baseball, their experiences or anything.”"
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Dunn said his appreciation for the military started at an early age but is something he now thinks about every day.
"“I have a lot of high school friends and ex-teammates who were or are in the military,” Dunn explained. “It was something as a kid that you have a pull toward the military. It never faded on me. We go on the road for 10 days and it’s hard to be away from our families. They do it for years or months at a time. It’s not just them. It’s their families as well who have to sacrifice. That’s why I focus on the families who come out. Without them sacrificing for us, we wouldn’t be playing this game. This is my job and I feel like it’s something small I can give back.”"