Kimbrel hosts charity event for childhood cancer research

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has a message for those attending the Curing Kids Cancer event hosted by him and his wife, Ashley, this Friday: Be warned, he has gotten onstage to sing before and no it’s not the same quality as his pitching. But he will know the words.

Kimbrel’s friend and country music singer Cole Swindell, who signed a record deal with Warner Bros. over the summer, will be a part of the “Cowboy Boots and Cocktails” event being held at the Fox Theater to raise funds to benefit the pediatric cancer research charity. The 50-save man and recent fourth-place finisher in the N.L. Cy Young Award voting will certainly have the microphone at certain points in the event … perhaps even when the music is playing, as he and teammate Chris Johnson, who used Swindell’s song “Chillin’ It” as his walk-up music this season, did a couple months back.

“I guess it was towards the end of the year, Cole came to Atlanta for a concert and me and Chris went and got up on stage with him and sang that song along with him. Obviously we didn’t have the mic because don’t have the greatest of vocal skills, but we had a good time,” Kimbrel said. “It’s way cooler to be a country music singer than it is a ballplayer, but I’m sure country music singers think the same thing.”

Kimbrel first got involved with the organization three years ago through mutual acquaintances, and, after a golf outing and a few more visits, soon began donating portions of his salary for strikeouts and saves. (Note: Check his numbers; that is a significant amount to match.) He and Ashley have been helping to plan the event for months, even inviting Swindell to provide entertainment back in early spring — before he hit the big-time with a record deal and a tour. 

Now, it’s all coming together.

Through Ashley’s personal project, “Ashley’s Angels,” four teenage cancer patients and survivors will also receive makeovers, new outfits and more as part of the night’s festivities. By partnering with local stores, the Kimbrels believe it’s an important step in the organization’s assistance with the recovery process.

“(Ashley) really wanted the girls to feel special and nice, because if you’ve ever seen a kid go through it, a lot of times the girls get really down on themselves because they may not think they’re pretty anymore and things like that,” Kimbrel said. “So giving them a makeover and letting them feel pretty again and giving them that confidence, I think that’s something that’s really important.”

If this sounds like a familiar theme within the Braves organization, that’s because it is. 

Kimbrel said that both veteran players and the franchise have set a precedent of outreach within the community, especially with local hospitals and children’s organizations, that rubs off on the team’s up-and-coming stars. For example: In case you missed the story on Dan Uggla’s involvement — along with Brian McCann and Chipper Jones — with the Rally Foundation, here’s the video.

“Coming up through the organization, a lot of the guys have seen Tim Hudson and what him and his wife, Kim, have been able to do. They give so much. And having events all the time and inviting us to be a part of them,” Kimbrel said. “The Braves also, with the children’s hospital and the caravans we go to before the season starts, they definitely put us in those situations to give back. … The longer you play this game, the more people you’re going to be able to help.”

Friday’s event (Nov. 15) is set to be held in the Egyptian Ballroom at the Fox Theater, highlighted by numerous Braves players, a private concert, food and drinks. All tickets and sponsorships are available at the Curing Kids Cancer’s website.