FERGUS FALLS, MINN./ SEPTEMBER 11, 2018/ On the field, Harmon Killebrew was a baseball legend. Off the field, he was a champion for people with disabilities. Killebrew believed everyone has a purpose and everyone has something to offer. On Saturday, August 25, people from all over the tri-state area came together to celebrate the inaugural “Harmon’s Heart of Baseball’ event. The event drew a large crowd of over 800 that were noticeable when seated in three sections of the Target Field stands, thanks to their blue Harmon’s Heart t-shirts.
After his passing in 2011, Harmon’s wife Nita Killebrew set out to establish a legacy for Harmon to ensure he would be remembered for his love and compassion for people. “Harmon was a man of compassion. I wanted to create an event to honor Harmon’s legacy that would remind all of us what an impact we can have on the lives of others; to smile, and to show love and encouragement to each other.”
The day-long celebration included a tailgate party at the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center in Bloomington, hosted by the Shriners. Hundreds came via charter buses from all over the state to enjoy a variety of fun activities and lunch. Nita Killebrew was on hand to visit with the crowds.
During a pre-game on-field program, the inaugural Harmon’s Heart of Baseball Award was presented to Tony Hintz of Brainerd, Minnesota, and to Cub Foods, his employer located in Baxter, Minnesota. The award recognized a Minnesotan with disabilities who exemplifies the values and a loving heart like the award’s namesake, Harmon Killebrew.
The Harmon’s Heart of Baseball Award runner-up, Ben Meder, a Productive Alternatives client from Fergus Falls, threw out the first pitch. It was followed up with a bear hug from TC Bear.
The National Anthem was performed by Blind Joe. He is from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and is known for his role as a competitor on Season 9 of NBC’s “The Voice.” Coincidentally, his first job – while still in high school – was through Productive Alternatives, Inc. Productive Alternatives has been helping persons with disabilities discover their gifts, earn supportive wages, and live life to their full ability in the community they love since 1959.