Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Stars Lead Drive for Kids ; Golf Outing Caps Local Fundraiser for KinderVision Advocacy Group

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Stars Lead Drive for Kids ; Golf Outing Caps Local Fundraiser for KinderVision Advocacy Group

Article excerpt

NEWBURGH, Ind. - While climbing the professional baseball ladder 45 years ago, a young Rollie Fingers pitched at Bosse Field more than once for the Birmingham A's against the Evansville White Sox in Southern League competition. Then there was that time the E-Sox played in Birmingham on opening night in 1967.

"A kid on the Evansville club hit me in the face with a line drive that put me out for two months," Fingers said.

That ball broke the future Hall-of-Famer's cheekbone, jaw and knocked out teeth. But Fingers recovered and went on to record 341 saves during 17 years in the majors.

Now a national spokesperson for KinderVision, an organization that raises awareness and money toward preventing youth abduction and sexual exploitation, Fingers converted another save this week during the "Greatest Save Celebrity Experience."

KinderVision hosted a meet-and-greet with Fingers and fellow hall-of-famer Gaylord Perry on Sunday at Casino Aztar. On Monday, the organization fielded an 18-hole scramble at Rolling Hills Country Club.

More than 150 attended Sunday's meet-and-greet. On Monday, 21 golf teams were paired with a celebrity - mostly former MLB, NBA and NFL players - as part of the first KinderVision event in the Evansville area.

A former Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers pitcher, Fingers joined KinderVision's national board more than 20 years ago. He, like organization founder Doug Sebastian, felt moved to help form a reward fund after the kidnapping and killing of 7-year-old Leticia Hernandez in California in 1989.

"They needed a celebrity type to be a spokesperson and they asked me," said Fingers, who still sports his signature handlebar mustache. "I said, 'Heck, yeah, I've got no problem doing that.' And that's how it all started.

"We teach kids what to do in situations if a predator comes up and maybe tries to kidnap them and take them away. It's been pretty rewarding so far."

Profits from this week's Greatest Save experience will fund educational programs and materials directly aimed at protecting Evansville-area kids. …

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