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04/06/10 9:30 PM ET

Attanasios donate $1 million to BCF

Brewers owner, wife plan to ramp up community effort

MILWAUKEE -- Surrounded by kids at a local YMCA, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio and his wife, Debbie, on Tuesday announced a $1 million gift to the newly repurposed Brewers Community Foundation.

Most of the gift will be used to launch a permanent fund for the Foundation, which was renamed from Brewers Charities in February under new executive director, Cecelia Gore. Her vision is to build an interest-generating fund to help the Brewers broaden their efforts in the community.

"I think it's important when you take a leadership role to demonstrate the leadership by doing something tangible and meaningful," Mark Attanasio said. "There's nothing more tangible and meaningful than writing a check to support things like this YMCA, which in turn supports a lot of disadvantaged kids."

Last year, Brewers Charities put more than $1 million back into the community. Attanasio said his goal for the near future was to double that figure via the Brewers Community Foundation, or BCF.

Brewers players Prince Fielder, Jeff Suppan, Casey McGehee and LaTroy Hawkins and broadcasters Bob Uecker and Brian Anderson flanked the Attanasios as they made Tuesday's announcement. They dedicated the gift to Debbie's late parents, Barbara and Martin Kaplan.

"My mother said that community service was the cornerstone of a life well-lived," Debbie Attanasio said. "I want to be sure that my children learn that lesson. I want them to live a good life, and I truly believe that the way you do that is to give time and money, if you have it. There is nothing more important than to give back to your community."

In addition to its previous efforts that supported access to higher education, recreational programs, good public health and preventive medicine, BCF added basic needs to its roster of activities and has begun working with local organizations that provide food, clothing and shelter to local residents in need.

Now the Attanasios are hoping for help. Mark Attanasio believes that as the evidence of the BCF's impact on the community becomes evident, more players will step up their donations. Players already commit hundreds of thousands of dollars annually -- Suppan alone gives $100,000 to the club's community arm in each season of his four-year contract -- but the numbers are expected to grow.

"I believe that will be true," Attanasio said. "We have to show our players evidence that these dollars are being put to work."

The fans can also contribute in two new ways this season. Last week the Brewers debuted a 50/50 raffle in which one lucky fan wins 50 percent of the net proceeds. The other 50 percent goes to the BCF. Tickets are $2 apiece and the raffle will be held during each Brewers home game.

Fans may also drop spare change into "Change for Children" canisters located at most concession stands at Miller Park.

The BCF is one of a number of organizations throughout the U.S. that has received support from the Attanasios in recent years. Among the others are Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, The Painted Turtle Camp for children with life-threatening diseases, Camp Ronald McDonald for children with cancer, Childrens Outing Association of Milwaukee, United Way of Milwaukee, The Greater Milwaukee Committee, the L.A. Food Bank and The Fulfillment Fund, which provides mentoring and scholarship programs for underprivileged students.

His $1 million gift to BCF on Tuesday, Attanasio said, was "just a start."

"While there are a lot of good things going on here pretty much every day and every night, especially during the baseball season," Attanasio said, "there are also a lot of challenges that Milwaukee faces. We want to help ease those challenges."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.