Phillies throw stikes in Northern Liberties

Car­los "Chooch" Ruiz and oth­er Phil­lies play­ers bowl for a worthy cause: sup­port­ing col­lege-bound Philly stu­dents.

Phil­adelphia Phil­lies star catch­er Car­los Ruiz, known as “Chooch,” was watch­ing for a dif­fer­ent kind of strike on Sunday, when he and sev­er­al fel­low play­ers took to the lanes at North­ern Liber­ties’ North Bowl to raise money for char­ity.

The Phil­lie Phanat­ic even made it out to the event - the twelfth an­nu­al Get in the Game fun­draiser - which raised over $160,000 for Phil­adelphia Fu­tures’ Spon­sor-A-Schol­ar ini­ti­at­ive.

Dur­ing the even­ing, hun­dreds of donors along with stu­dents and fam­il­ies in­volved in the Spon­sor-A-Schol­ar ini­ti­at­ive mingled with 13 Phil­lies play­ers in­clud­ing Hunter Pence, Shane Vic­torino, Vance Wor­ley, John May­berry Jr. and Cliff Lee.

For the second year in a row, Chooch served as host for the Sunday, April 29, event at North Bowl, at 909 N. 2nd St. In the past, Chase Ut­ley, Ry­an Howard and Vi­crtorino have hos­ted.

Though now it’s all about bowl­ing, the event star­ted in 2001 as a bil­liard tour­na­ment with former Phil­lies Doug Glan­ville, Randy Wolf and Mike Lieber­th­al.

“This event is im­port­ant for chil­dren with needs. I’m a sup­port­er and I wanted to be here for the cause,” Chooch said through the help of a trans­lat­or. “I feel that I have an ob­lig­a­tion to help those in need.”

Chooch and his fel­low play­ers spent the even­ing bowl­ing and sign­ing auto­graphs for fans.

In hon­or of Ruiz, Phil­adelphia Fu­tures – which works to sup­port col­lege bound chil­dren, in grades nine and above, who come from low-in­come fam­il­ies – provided a spon­sor­ship of $7,500 to Ad­ri­an Gomez, a 16-year-old stu­dent at George Wash­ing­ton High.

“This has really been a nice ex­per­i­ence. He was really nice,” said Gomez, who met Ruiz that even­ing.

Gomez said he works with Phil­adelphia Fu­tures on a weekly basis, study­ing and do­ing home­work to help pre­pare him for col­lege.

Phil­adelphia Fu­tures, he said, is work­ing with him to pick a school, even though he already knows what his fu­ture might hold. Born in Equador, Gomez said he wants to be an im­mig­ra­tion law­yer, work­ing to help pre­vent im­mig­rants from be­ing de­por­ted un­fairly.

“I want to help people. I don’t want to see them get kicked out of the coun­try,” he said. “I want to help them out and give people the op­por­tun­it­ies like the ones I’ve been giv­en.”

Gomez is only one of over 180 stu­dents throughout the city in­volved in the Spon­sor-a-Schol­ar pro­gram.

Joan Maz­zo­tti, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of Phil­adelphia Fu­tures, said the Spon­sor-a-Schol­ar pro­gram doesn’t just help stu­dents.

“We are a strong re­source for par­ents,” she said. “Kids come by every week for our after school pro­gram, they get matched with a ment­or…and, they stay [in touch with Phil­adelphia Fu­tures] all through their lives.”

The pro­gram also provides $6,000, spread out and de­livered in $600 in­cre­ments, in or­der to help cov­er costs as­so­ci­ated with school­ing.

That money helps with costs a stu­dent of a low-in­come fam­ily might nev­er be able to cov­er.

“We ab­so­lutely change lives,” Maz­zo­tti said. “And, when you do that, you not only im­pact the in­di­vidu­al, you im­pact their fam­ily and then, you im­pact the com­munity.”

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­

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