PHOENIX -- When Miguel Montero first came to the United States in 2002, he joined the D-backs organization's rookie-level entry in Missoula, Mont., and stayed with a host family as he assimilated to life in America. It was there that the young Venezuelan first encountered the Ronald McDonald House, as one of the children in his new "family" got sick and needed to use its services.
Though the young girl passed away in 2007, Montero has never forgotten how meaningful that organization was to his host family and Friday morning, he joined the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation in dedicating a brand new playground at the Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix just a few miles from Chase Field.
"This means a lot and it's just a great feeling to see these kids smiling and having a great time," said Montero, who was joined by his wife, mother and mother-in-law at the ribbon cutting ceremony. "I've been blessed and I want to help others. I've been here a few times in the past and to see what the Diamondbacks did and all the work that the D-backs employees put into this, it's amazing."
Using a $50,000 financial contribution from Montero and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, a group of D-backs employees from the D-backs Give Back League undertook the renovations of the playground, which is modeled after Chase Field. It features a baseball diamond with a replica of Montero at home plate and the walls are padded just like the outfield at Chase Field. The project also included new lighting, fans, a mister system, grilling area, patio furniture and landscaping.
The Ronald McDonald House provides temporary housing for families that travel to Phoenix to get care for their children. The city has become a medical destination for children dealing with everything from oncology to premature birth and RMHC becomes a "home away from home" for them, according to executive director Nancy Roach.
"The Ronald McDonald House is something that's become close to our hearts," said D-backs senior marketing and media specialist Rayme Lofgren, whose Give Back League team coordinated the project. "Just seeing the kids playing on the playground before the ribbon cutting, they were really excited to have something positive to look forward to during the unfortunate situation that they're going through."
It's all part of the D-backs' overall approach to being a part of the community during good times and bad.
"We're not always going to win on the field and this year, of course, we didn't make it to the playoffs, but this is winning as well," said D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall. "This is only possible because of the generosity of our employees and Miguel Montero, who gets it. The more that we can do for the community, in particularly families and young kids, the greater our opportunity will be to have a lasting effect for years to come."