Atlanta Braves first-round pick takes mound to raise money for Hawaii relief

Atlanta Braves first-round pick takes mound to raise money for Hawaii relief
Published: Aug. 12, 2023 at 9:48 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2023 at 10:39 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - When he was drafted 35th overall by the Atlanta Braves in 2022, pitcher JR Ritchie saw the power of Georgia and the southeast.

“It was an incredible experience, to say the least,” Ritchie said.

Now, recovering from Tommy John surgery in Florida, he’s taking a different kind of mound, looking to rally Braves fans behind a different team thousands of miles away.

“It’s not necessarily about how much we raise,” Ritchie said. “I just want to raise awareness.”

Ritchie has deep ties to Maui and Lahaina, which have been devastated by wildfire in recent days. He’s lived there, trained there, and played baseball there.

Now, his heart is there, too.

“It’s indescribable, honestly,” Ritchie said about the destruction.

Ritchie is working with the Maui-based baseball training facility Hitter’s Paradise to raise funds that will go directly to providing the essentials to people who lost everything in the fires.

He says that Hitters Paradise is acting as a staging area and shelter for supplies to be organized for relief efforts.

“It’s a lot worse than it seems,” Ritchie said. “I mean, people are running out of clothes, running out of toiletries, toilet paper, diapers.”

In just over 24 hours, he’s raised more than $9,000 dollars through a GoFundMe. The Braves minor league affiliates are stepping up as well.

“[The affiliates] are collecting donations of food, clothes, whatever it may be, and they’re going to ship it over to Hitter’s Paradise for them to have.”

But Ritchie’s ambitions are to reach more than just baseball teams and fans. He’s hoping to provide Metro Atlanta and the southeast with another way to help.

“I’m just hoping I can do as much as I can to help them,” he said.

Because despite distance, uniforms, and an ocean of difference, we’re all on the same team.

“I can’t imagine how much they’re going to come together and find a way through this,” Richie said.

If you’d like to help out Hawaiian relief efforts through Ritchie and Hitter’s Paradise, you can find a donation link here.