STAMFORD, CT – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc along with The Chicago Cubs and American Airlines, partnered to send a Chicago-based Union League Boys and Girls Clubs RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) team— the Cubs RBI Junior All-Stars— to Cubs’ Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona, for a once-in-a-lifetime Major League experience. Together, the partners sponsored the team’s all-expenses-paid trip, which included time with Cubs players and VIP behind-the-scenes experiences.
Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Starwood’s SVP of Commercial Services Mark Vondrasek and American Airlines crew members surprised the RBI team in February with news of the complimentary trip.
“These young men put a lot of time, effort and heart into their team, and Starwood could not be happier to organize this Major League experience for them,” said Mark Vondrasek, SVP of Commercial Services at Starwood. “Starwood is committed to creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences through the Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) program, and we were thrilled to extend this to the Cubs RBI Junior All-Stars. As a Chicago-native, Cubs fan and lifetime baseball player, I am personally honored to help bring this dream to life for these deserving young players.”
The Cubs RBI Junior All-Stars team traveled in style thanks to American Airlines, departing from American’s Chicago hub March 18 and arriving in its Phoenix hub before settling in at the Sheraton Mesa. The weekend was filled with surprise-and-delight experiences for the team. They met with Cubs players, got a behind-the-scenes tour of Sloan Park and played their own game at Sloan Park against an Arizona RBI team. Kyle Schwarber, a catcher for the Cubs, went above and beyond by lending his glove to a fellow backstop from the Cubs Junior All-Stars during their game. He was later joined by several teammates in handing out personal gear to members of the Chicago RBI team, giving the players Major League mementos to bring home. The kindness of the Cubs coaches and players provided the boys with a truly memorable trip.
“The RBI program is about more than baseball. It’s about giving these kids an outlet, helping them to build character and comradery, and teaching them the importance of education and life lessons,” said Ernest Radcliffe, Jr., head coach of the Chicago Union League Boys and Girls Clubs RBI All-Stars program. “Our boys were given the chance to do things they would never have been able to experience on their own, thanks to Starwood Preferred Guest, the Cubs and American Airlines, and we hope this experience will inspire them to give back to their own communities.”
The Chicago Cubs Union League Boys and Girls Clubs RBI program is fully funded by a grant from Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation. The league serves more than 300 youth in Chicago ages 13-18. The program teaches positive values such as teamwork, discipline and fair play to low-income, at-risk youth.
“Being a good community partner is one of the three organizational goals of the Chicago Cubs, so we were enthusiastically on board when SPG approached us about sending an RBI team to Spring Training,” said Cubs Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships Allen Hermeling. “Our partnership with SPG helps bring exciting moments to baseball enthusiasts and Starwood guests alike, and we’re thrilled that through our partnership, we helped create an unforgettable experience for this team.”
“As the Official Airline of the Chicago Cubs, we’re thrilled to work together to give back to the Chicago community,” said Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president – Global Marketing. “It’s particularly special for us to provide the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs RBI team the opportunity to experience the Cubs’ Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona.”
The trip was made possible in part by the exclusive partnership between Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®), Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and MLB, announced in November 2015, designating SPG as the “Official Hotel Loyalty Program of Major League Baseball” and Sheraton as the “Official Hotel of Major League Baseball.”