Jamie Moyer plots Camp Erin's growth
Pitcher's program provides childhood bereavement support
At 45, Jamie Moyer has more energy than just about anyone you know.
Moyer and his wife Karen are raising seven kids and their newest is Yenifer, an adopted, 2-year-old girl from Guatemala. And while their Seattle home is crowded, their hearts are open.
In addition to living the busy lives of a Major League Baseball family, the Moyers have operated the Jamie Moyer Foundation since 2000, which has raised more than $15 million for distressed children.
The Moyers recently announced plans to open the 18th in their growing network of Camp Erin bereavement camps, this one in Chicago. The camps are being established in the name of Erin Metcalf, who developed liver cancer at age 15 and later died from the affliction. During her hospitalization, Erin often expressed concern for the other children battling life-threatening diseases, as well as their siblings, who sometimes received little attention.
In addition to Chicago, there are planned 2009 camp openings in New York, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto, Anchorage and a yet-to-be-determined city in Washington state. Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah, along with Moyer's former manager, Lou Piniella, are providing support for the Chicago camp.
Already in operation are two camps in Seattle, Philadelphia and Cincinnati and one each in Boston, San Francisco, Oakland, Phoenix, San Diego, Tampa, Albany, N.Y., Boise, Idaho, Everett, Wash., Kona, Hawaii, Palm Springs, Calif., and Tacoma, Wash.
In 2010, camps are scheduled to open in Anaheim, Baltimore, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Denver, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and another Washington state location.
"We're laying the groundwork, interviewing hospice organizations, finding locations," Moyer said. "It's nice to see the camps growing, seeing children benefiting. Knowing that children are dealing with grief and bereavement, we feel good about being able to help outside Seattle.
"The goal is to create camps in every Major League city. I've played in every Major League city. I've won against every Major League organization. Every city where there's two teams, we'll have two camps. Florida will have a couple of camps."
Moyer plans so many Camp Erins because the need for them is great.
"We feel like it's a great way to give back," he said. "A great initiative. We're finding the numbers of children dealing with bereavement is astounding. There's 1.9 million children who will deal with death of a loved one by the time they graduate from high school. It's proven these kids can go backward [into poverty and depression]."
The camps run for three days in the summer for children ages 6 to 17. Each camp is designed to serve about 450 youths.
Lesa Anderson, who was with the Moyer Foundation in its early days, has returned to serve as camp director. "She does a phenomenal job and so do a number of people under her, and a lot of volunteers," Moyer said. "That's what makes camps run -- volunteers."
Many Major League players are supporting Moyer's effort. When they switch teams, they transfer their involvement to a Camp Erin in their new city.
The Moyer Foundation raised $500,000 for Pacific Northwest charities in 2000, its first year. It began with the enlistment of players' wives, and a bowling event to promote organ donation.
Like his foundation, Moyer's family has grown, too. Sons Dillon, Hutton and McCabe, and daughters Timoney, Duffy and Grady, all between ages 4 and 17, saw first-hand the process of adopting a child from a foreign country and giving that child a better life.
"We adopted Yenifer last August from an orphanage in Guatemala," Moyer said of his daughter who was born in August 2006. "We just felt it was the right thing to do. I had an ex-teammate who has adopted two children and has seen the blessings it brought to his family.
"We've seen how it's helped children who may not have a place to go. It's been a great blessing to our family and taught our children many lessons. We feel like we're giving this girl a great opportunity she may not have had at the orphanage."
Jamie and Karen Moyer "kicked around" the idea of adoption 20 years ago, before they started their family. They involved their children in the process.
"Our older four children went to Guatemala and saw where she was from," Moyer said. "It started with Karen and Dillon going on a missionary trip. Karen and three of the children spent her first birthday with Yenifer, experienced the life she has. It was a great learning experience. We're excited to have her.
"She's one of the Moyer clan. She fit right in. They accept her with open arms and treat her just like she's a biological child."
The Moyers' lucky number of seven children works because the older children look after their younger siblings.
"We have teenagers who have been a great help at home," Moyer said. "We have built-in babysitters -- a very close-knit family. It's phenomenal. I'm very proud of our two boys, how they handle themselves and treat their younger siblings. They help raise the other children, but they're also being kids themselves. It's pretty special."
The adoption process can be daunting but ultimately satisfying for any parents who want to pursue it.
"It's very difficult to do an adoption [from another country]," Moyer said. "In some situations, they may be saving a child's life. Bring him into their home, give him love, give a child an opportunity they would not receive wherever they're from. You're setting a great example and giving someone a life they might not otherwise have."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.