As Dodgers fans mourn the trading away of one of their favorite players, outfielder, Joc Pederson to the Los Angeles Angels; there is one group of people who should be ecstatic and hopeful for the future. That is advocates and families of those who have Down Syndrome.

Truthfully, whenever there’s a big trade of a beloved player, you have to ask why will they miss that player. Is it because of the number of homers every year? Maybe he’s an RBI King, or he wins gold gloves, batting titles or he’s an All-Star… or maybe he’s a World Series hero? Or maybe, just maybe… it’s because that player is just a genuinely good and decent human being?!

Ask anyone who follows the Los Angeles Dodgers and they’ll tell you that Joc Pederson marks a good number of those boxes. What stands out is his love and devotion for his brother Champ. In any book, he’s a good egg. That’s what they’ll miss most. Luckily, he’s staying in southern California and moving over to Anaheim.

Joc with brother Champ

Joc Pederson and Angels’ first baseman/ designated hitter Albert Pujols are both directly involved with advocacy groups that help people with Down Syndrome.  Both Joc’s big brother brother Champ and Pujols’ daughter Bella have down syndrome and have ended up on the forefront of baseball’s duty of bringing to light life with a family member with down syndrome.

Albert with daughter Bella
Champ Pederson is a 29 year-old man who is living the baseball dream as he supports his little brother Joc through his baseball career. Champ has been a bat boy in the 2019 All-Star Game, thrown out the first pitch at Dodger stadium, pumped up the crowd at the 2017 World Series, and has his own hat design. Champ is the face and force behind the brand “Live Like a Champ.” So… Live Like a Champ sells shirts and hats and is designed to help those with Down Syndrome. Champ takes everyday as a challenge to see who he can help adding “ I have Down Syndrome, this doesn’t define me, it fires me up. I am proud of everything I have achieved.”  Champ’s favorite player is Albert Pujols probably more for his work with families who have members with special needs.

Albert and Champ
Bella Pujols is Albert’s eldest daughter and an athlete in her own right. Bella has won two medals for swimming in the Special Olympics challenging the notion that her father is the hardest working athlete in the family. When Albert was a rising star making barely over $250 dollars a week; the family was “truly living off love.” This gives the Pujols family first had experience what it’s like to struggle while raising a child with special needs. Everything changed when Albert was signed to the St. Louis Cardinals and became the 2001 rookie of the year. In 2005, Albert and his Wife Deidre founded “The Pujols Family Foundation.” The Foundation offers a full calendar of events that help or include those with Down Syndrome and their families. The events range from Music therapy to cooking classes, sports clinics, and even pajama parties.
It’ll be exciting to see what the combined forces of “Live Like a Champ” and “The Pujols Family Foundation” can bring for those connected to this condition. The popularity of both Joc and Albert plus the charming spirit of Champ and Bella are sure to do a lot of good for the local and national Down Syndrome  community. Even if that change is that people in the general population include people with down syndrome to participate  in activities or have conversations with them.

For the Angels, Joc Pederson was a great acquisition; in more ways than one. It’s said that charity can be the outward expression of faith and hope. Both Joc and Albert have shown us that saying is true. Join in the fight and help. For more information on how to follow and support both players on and off the field, please visit their websites. It just may be one of the best clicks you ever make.
Live Like a Champ
Pujols Family Foundation

Look for good things to happen in 2020, on and off the field!

The Pederson’s are coming to Anaheim in 2020