Thomas Jefferson Elementary School was roaring like U.S. Cellular today, as Chicago White Sox pitcher and Valparaiso native, Jeff Samardzija, returned home to Valpo to greet the kids and present them with vouchers good for a free ticket to a White Sox game.
A voucher that will soon be in the hands of all of the approximately 6,400 kids in the Valparaiso Community School District.
“I am just happy to be back here in my hometown, and to be able to give back to the kids,” Samardzija said.
Samardzija said the idea of giving out the tickets came from his passion for baseball, and his want to introduce kids to the beautiful game at a young age.
“We’re (White Sox) trying to get younger kids to come to games and get into baseball,” Samardzija added. “It is such a great sport.”
And the proximity of Chicago to his hometown seemed like a perfect place to start his initiative.
“Sometimes the stadium can seem so far away,” said Samardzija. “But I am lucky to work so close to my hometown and to be able to come back and visit.”
But as much as the day meant to the kids, TJES Prinicipal, David Muniz, said the day showed just as much about what great a person Samardzija is, and what he means to the community.
“You don’t normally see this from someone,” Muniz said. “For him to come back and do something for his community says a lot about him as a person, and shows what hard work and determination can do.”
“I think it’s a great inspiration for the children,” Muniz concluded.
Safe to say that for the kids at TJES, as their faces lit up as Jeff personally walked into different classrooms to say hello and hand out the vouchers, it was truly a day to remember.