After chatting with Grilli this afternoon about his involvement in this years "Signs of Summer Event" in Golden, Colorado, it is clear that Grilli is one of the good guys. Soft spoken, humble, and committed to helping those less fortunate than himself are attributes that don't show up on the scoreboard.
But for those who are keeping score at home, Grilli is throwing a perfect game.
Grilli became involved with the Rockie Mountain Deaf School (Charter School) shortly after he was traded to the Rockies last season and has become a regular fixture at the school to this day.
"I really wanted to do something for the community, because that's the type of person I try to be, explained Grilli who posted a 3-2 record with a 2.93 ERA for the Rockies last season. "My sister was a sign language interpreter, so when I got the letter from the school, I figured things happen for a reason."
The letter Grilli refers to was part of a fund raising campaign sent to him by Kay Bohan, who's son Troy is a student at the school. When the school was forced to move for the fifth time in 11 years Bohan started the "Sign's of Summer" event to raise money for a permanent building.
"I sent out letters along with sports memorabilia to over 1000 athletes across the country. My hopes was to get them to autograph the items so we could auction it off at our first event. I got back about 600 items, which was great," explained Bohan.
"But I only got one phone call from an athlete asking how else he could help. And that was from Jason."
Bohan explained that when Grilli got the letter he was so touched that he called his dad, Steve, who was also a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays from 1975-79. Then he called his wife and his sister and read them the letter as well.
"I knew I had to help," explained Grilli. "I called Kay and told her that signing autographs is the easy part, what else can I do to help?"
The two started talking about communication and how challenging it is for the deaf to communicate. At that point "a light went off" and Grilli told Kay about the Globallinx Video Phone, which he brings on the road so he can see his family when he calls them.
"I bring it so I can see my family and they can see me during times away from home", explained Grilli. "So I sent Kay and Troy a video phone to see if it helped him communicate."
Grilli has since donated several to the school to help the other 55 deaf students who attend. The 5 Linx company that manufactures the phones is also giving away two video phones at tomorrow's big event as well as paying for a one-year phone bill subscription for each one. Grilli is now a company rep for 5 Linx and markets the phone through his Perfect Pitch Marketing company.
"Meeting Troy for the first time, made me melt," explained Grilli. "These kids have such special needs. I have a son of my own and I would hope that someone helped him if he had the need. I just love them."
Grilli went on to explain, "I hope you understand. I don't do this so Jason Grilli get's a gold star next to his name. I do it because it's the right thing to do."
Bohan, who described herself as "just a mom" is not employed by the school, but simply a very involved fundraiser.
"The school really lacks funding as the state cut our budget by over $134,000.", explains Bohan. "The school is funded strictly by state funding and private donations and this fundraiser really helps out."
The Signs of Summer event is held at the Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden, Colorado on Saturday, May 30, 2009 from 11 AM to 3 PM and will feature a huge auction of sports memorabilia, as well as many other items.
"We are absolutely thrilled by the outpouring of goodness," explains Bohan. "We have signed Colorado Rockies jerseys courtesy of Jason and the team. And FSN, who does the television for the Rockies games, has donated tickets to a game and will allow you to go up into the TV booth and announce part of the game."
Additional auction items include:
- Signed jerseys from the Los Angeles Kings hockey team
- Disney items donated by Radio Disney
- Bedside fire alarms and pens donated by Lifetone
- Pay it Forward bracelets
- Colorado Rockies memorabilia donated by Fuller-Southeby's International of Denver (who also donated all of the postage for the event).
Grilli has also set up a website for online donations at yourcause.com. He utilizes the site throughout the year and not only during this event.
Grilli will also be signing the book "A Glove of Their Own", the children's baseball book which has captured the hearts of the nation.
"Both Jason and I are good friends with Bob Salomon (a team member that created "A Glove of Their Own" and the book's promoter). We are thrilled to have Jason signing the book at the event.
"A Glove of Their Own", which I wrote about in my recent article, "Making A Difference One Glove at A Time", helps raise money for organizations like the Rocky Mountain Deaf School.
By purchasing the book at the event or online using the school's unique donor code RMD281 a portion of the proceeds for each book sold will be donated directly to the Rocky Mountain Deaf School. The book can be ordered using the code for RMDS at www.agloveoftheirown.com.
The book, which is being supported by players and managers all across the country, was awarded the coveted Ben Franklin Award for Excellence in Publishing.
Before hanging up the phone with Bohan and Grilli, I asked her what she would do if Grilli ever gets traded away from the Colorado team.
She laughed, "He's as committed to the cause as I am. He's on a mission and he and Troy are friends for life."
Rocky Mountain Deaf School is founded on the belief that deaf children can and should succeed. The driving force behind the school is a theme of excellence in research-based academic programs In this intellectually stimulating environment, communication is totally accessible throughout the day from every person in the child’s environment. Each student’s potential is maximized as teachers continue to instill in each child the joy of living and learning.