Dugout Mugs is proud to announce that Just Amazing Youth Sports (J.A.Y.S) is our March Cheers To Charity recipient! Just Amazing Youth Sports is a nonprofit that was created to give the special needs community a chance to participate cost-free in various sports.
Jay Matlock, who also started the Houston Astros Nation fan pages on social media, began coaching kids with special needs four years ago because his Autistic nephew wanted to play sports and showcase his ability.
“The kid loves baseball and I wanted to be the one to teach him to play,” he said. “I’ve been coaching youth baseball for 16 years. After parents started seeing the fun the other kids were having, they started signing up their own kids.”
For Dugout Mugs and CEO Kris Dehnert, it was a no-brainer to team up. As a dad himself, Dehnert realized the "importance for a child to be a part of something, especially sports.”
“They get kids moving, learning, laughing, and it just brings people together,” he noted. “When Jay told me about what he was doing by starting a league for special needs children, I felt compelled to help. I didn't hesitate to get Dugout Mugs involved, because at the end of the day, we celebrate and serve the heroes of the baseball community and that is exactly who Jay is!”
What started with six kids has quickly expanded to 30 plus ballplayers in their Dayton chapter of the organization alone. And they're not stopping there! He’s made it his mission to increase opportunities for special needs throughout the state by teaming up with Dixie Youth Baseball and helping them grow their Buddy Ball Program. “I submitted a league formation procedure last night to the director to help educate leagues on the formation, coaching, and management of the teams,” he explained. “We plan on having at least 100 special needs kids playing baseball in Texas this year, and that's being conservative.”
In addition to a financial donation, Dugout Mugs also donated several products autographed by former Houston Astros pitcher and World Series Champion Charlie Morton. All of which will be used to pay for uniforms, equipment, insurance, the travel fees for the team to travel to Longview, Texas for the Dixie League Buddy Ball World Series and the Pony League World Series for special needs in August.
J.A.Y.S. also hosts several fundraisers including their Cops vs. Kids game where they play the local police department in baseball. Although baseball is by far their biggest sport, the league also plays basketball, flag football, and will field a team in a kickball league as well.
“Our organization pays for everything, it costs $0 for a child to come and play,” Matlock said. "Thanks to generous sponsors like Dugout Mugs, we can do a lot for these kids and give them baseball and life experiences that they would not have otherwise. You're helping us put a lot of kids on a baseball field and letting them participate in a game that we all love so much.”
About Cheers To Charity:
Our #CheersToCharity initiative has helped numerous foundations and organizations in our baseball community including the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, Mariano Rivera Foundation, Lance McCullers Jr Foundation, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and many others.
If you know any heroes of the baseball world, let us know so we can continue to celebrate & serve them through our Cheers to Charity initiative!