Jose Abreu is using his high profile around Chicago to help kids with special needs, as the White Sox first baseman on Tuesday launched his community outreach program “Abreu’s Amigos” with a donation and visit to the Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research.
Abreu donated $10,000 to ESMC and, along with infielder Emilio Bonifacio, outfielder Melky Cabrera, shortstop Alexei Ramirez and Bulls/Sox Academy coaches, held a baseball clinic with students at the school before Tuesday night's White Sox-Astros game.
The 28-year-old reigning American League Rookie of the Year said he was close with someone with autism while living in Cuba and jumped at the opportunity to kick off his charitable work with ESMC, which has long partnered with the White Sox.
“I checked the mission of the Easter Seals and how they worked with the kids and I fell in love with the idea and the mission,” Abreu said through a translator. “I feel very glad to do it right now and continue to help people, especially kids.”
“Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago is thankful for our long-time partnership with the White Sox. We are delighted about the launch of Abreu’s Amigos and Jose’s personal commitment to our students,” Tim Muri, ESMC president and CEO, said. “Together, Jose Abreu, the White Sox and Easter Seals are committed to providing opportunities for socialization, independence, recreation and friendship for students with autism and other special needs.”
Abreu’s program will focus on providing students with special needs an opportunity to develop their social skills by inviting them on field trips to join him at U.S. Cellular Field. Research shows those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder can help increase social engagement and self confidence through extra-curricular activities like the ones Abreu will host.
“I just want to help them,” Abreu said. “I just want to help them to up the quality in their life. Not just the kids, their parents. They are the ones that are with them every day and they suffer also. I think everything I can do to help them is a good thing for them.”