On Sunday, Jan. 13, celebrities and athletes will take part in a softball game with the aim of raising money for families affected by the recent Woolsey fire, Camp fire and Thousand Oaks shooting. Hosted by California Strong, an organization founded by MLB players Ryan Braun and Christian Yelich and Rams quarterback Jared Goff in partnership with the Ventura County YMCA, participants will include Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler, Brad Paisley, Charlie Sheen, Rob Riggle, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Baker Mayfield, Matt Leinart, Whitney Cummings and more.
We spoke to Braun and Yelich about it.
L.A. WEEKLY: Tell us about this event — how did you get the celebrities involved?
RYAN BRAUN: We started the California Strong campaign to raise money to give directly to the victims of the recent tragedies in California (fires in both Southern and Northern California, and the shooting in Thousand Oaks). We all grew up in these areas, live in L.A. during our offseason and wanted to do what we could to help. The coolest part of what we do is being able to use our platform as professional athletes to positively impact other people’s lives. This cause was particularly close to our hearts because we could see the devastation first-hand. We were all displaced by the fires and almost immediately started talking as a group about what we could do to help. Our goal was simply to try to help as many families as possible as they begin to rebuild their lives and homes.
Putting together a charity softball game was one of the first ideas we discussed. We thought it would be a fun way to raise money, and we could create a unique event that would help the community continue to rally together. Most of the athletes and celebrities involved are personal friends and others we invited through friends of friends. We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from everyone.
Where will the money raised be going?
RB: The money we raise will go directly to families impacted by the fires and shooting. We partnered with the YMCA on this project and they have a process in place by which they vet people who have filled out detailed applications and identify who needs funds the most. We wish we could help everyone impacted but the goal is to be able to help as many people as we possibly can. We know that the recovery process is a long one, and our plan is to be here to assist not just right now but down the road.
Can you offer a brief history of California Strong? How did you get involved?
CHRISTIAN YELICH: The idea of California Strong started during the fires over a group chat between the four of us: myself, Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas and Mike Attanasio. We saw the destruction from the fires and the aftermath of the shooting, and being from these areas, we knew we wanted to help people out. We never imagined from the initial text conversation that it would evolve and become as large of a campaign that so many people wanted to get involved in. We are all very thankful to be able to help out our community.
Tickets for Sunday's game can be purchased here. It takes place at Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, on Sunday, Jan. 13, rain or shine. Batting practice is at noon, and the game starts at 1 p.m.