Go to AT&T Park today and you won't see many Leonard jerseys. Traded to the Seattle Mariners in 1988, he played for the Giants for 7 years. You might, however, see Jeffrey Leonard promoting charity events, attending speaking engagements with boosters and visiting suites during home games. That right, the HacMan was hired this year as a Giants' community ambassador (Giants Magazine).
When I read that Leonard was "a professional schmoozer" in the July 2014 issue of Giants Magazine, I was a little surprised. Was he a good guy? Why might he be a good fit for the larger Giants community? In his prime, Leonard was an All-Star outfielder who was also named the MVP of the NLCS—even in defeat (to the Cardinals. Boo!). I also learned that he is committed to something much larger than the Giants: The One-Flap Down Foundation.
"Leonard's stepdaughter Christine, a single mother of three, was diagnosed with breast cancer five months ago. After watching her go through the experience, Leonard and his wife Karen, started a charity to support single parents battling cancer. We deal with the everyday needs, he says. Transportation, house cleaning, bringing them food five days a week, laundry—whatever they need. We try to take the burden off people."
I couldn't believe what I read. I have always believed that single parents are heroes. Being a parents is already a 24-hour a day job. Doing that solo—without the support of a spouse—is that much more demanding. Add an illness like cancer into the equation and your full plate is now too heavy.
|A reunion of the 1987 team.
Growing up Catholic, the month of October meant two things. One, it was the month of the Rosary. As I got older, I became aware of the fact it is also "Respect for Life"month. Today, we widely recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I aim to pray the rosary for all of those who are affected by cancer, especially single parents with this disease. Recognizing them, holding them in our prayers and hearing their story is a remarkable way to Respect Life. It's also a telling reminder: Life is indeed a gift.