On Thursday night, an event was hosted in the Phillies’ home ballpark that had a bigger impact than any baseball game.
The non-profit Eluna held its national Champion for Children fundraiser in the Hall of Fame club in Citizens Bank Park.
Eluna’s mission is to support children and families impacted by grief or addiction. Created in 2000 in Seattle, the organization will always be connected to the Philadelphia Phillies thanks to its founders, former starter Jamie Moyer and child advocate Karen Phelps Moyer.
Eluna supports children most notably through its camps. Camp Erin is the largest national bereavement program for youth. Children ages 6-17 going through loss can attend the camp for education and emotional support with a dose of fun. Camp Mariposa helps support children aged 9-17 who are dealing with a family member facing addiction. Its goal is to break the cycle of addiction and offer children the opportunity of a brighter future.
The Phillies have supported Eluna financially, and by giving out tickets to games for campers to reunite post-camp.
This was a hybrid event, half in person and half virtual, as a second half was being held simultaneously in Seattle.
While the Moyer’s weren’t in Philly for the event, longtime PA announcer Dan Baker and the Philly Phanatic were. Baker acted as the in-person MC for the event, while Philly news legend Ukee Washington was the virtual MC.
Host of the 3rd hour of the TODAY Show, Craig Melvin virtually accepted the Champion for Children award. He was introduced virtually by coworker and American TV legend Al Roker.
“My dad struggled mightily with addiction for years and he overcame it. And so, it’s become one of my causes to help other folks out there who are struggling with addiction.”
“Craig Melvin, from the TODAY Show and MSNBC, who’s been a fierce advocate talking about his own grief, losing his brother to colon cancer. [He’s] Written a book about his dad’s addiction to gambling and alcohol.”, said Eluna CEO Mary FitzGerald.
The Big 5 had representation at the event as former Athletic Director of St. Joseph’s University, Don DiJulia, accepted the Community Partner Award.
St. Joe’s Center for Addiction Recovery and Education has become close partners with Eluna. Eluna has also partnered with the school of Social Work. Eluna CEO also serves on the advisory board for the school of health.
“[He’s] been immensely instrumental in making sure the Center for Addiction Recovery and Education and the merger with the Sciences and school of health at St. Joe’s happens so that we have more trained professionals in the field serving kids.”, said Mary FitzGerald.
“I’m honored to be here and I’m honored to have my organization support this institution.”, said DiJulia, accepting the award.
Jamie Moyer is also an alumni of St. Joe’s University.
Holly Hartman received the Resiliency Award. She’s a RN and the Regional Chief Clinical Officer at Assurance Health Systems in Indiana. She has been a strong advocate for suicide prevention.
“Holly’s knowledge and advocacy on suicide support and awareness is an incredible asset to Eluna and has been the bridge to secure transformational funding to help enhance our support.”, DiJulia said of Hartman.
“When I first started my career, I’ve always been in mental heath and I’ve seen a lot of bad outcomes. But, I’ve also seen a lot of people overcome their outcomes. It takes us as a team to work together to help those in suffering or those people that have been left and we don’t realize they need help.”, said Hartman during her acceptance speech.
Hartman has helped expand suicide prevention education in hospitals all across Indiana.
“Never doubt the power of a small group of people can do to change the world.”, said Hartman.
Photo Credit: Alec Kostival