This came through one of the DS listservs I'm on and I thought I'd share it here. Albert Pujols, a slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals has a daughter with Down syndrome and he has a foundation to help those with Down syndrome.
After hearing from such notables as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and television personality Glenn Beck, a crowd that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument cheered when Pujols was presented with an honor called the Hope Award.
"I want to thank God for giving me this platform as a baseball player," Pujols said to the crowd at the "Restoring Honor" rally, organized by Beck.
Pujols was introduced by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who described his first baseman as "a real-life hero."
"Wow, what a view," La Russa said as he surveyed the crowd.
Organizers had a permit for 300,000 people. The National Park Service stopped making official crowd estimates more than a decade ago after being accused of undercounting the Million Man March.
La Russa, wearing an untucked dress shirt, said the Hope Award represented honesty, integrity and trust in life, both personally and professionally. He described Pujols' nearly 10-year career as "historic" in the 120 years of Major League Baseball.
"His baseball exploits are not the reason that he is the Hope Award recipient," La Russa said. "What separates Albert is his total commitment to his life in and out of baseball, his commitment to his family ... his commitment to his faith and his tireless in- and out-of-season commitment to community."
La Russa added: "If you're in the St. Louis area, you will see Albert on days off, evenings off, throughout the very tough six-month season, tirelessly being involved with causes, especially their own Pujols Family Foundation."
After receiving his bronze medal, Pujols thanked his wife, Deidre, who was backstage, and those who contribute to his foundation, which helps people with Down syndrome. The first baseman also made reference to his work in the Dominican Republic.
"We can't forget where we came from," said Pujols, who was clad in black.
"As long as I'm alive, I'm going to continue to do the best I can to represent Jesus Christ," he said in one of several references to his faith.
Beck, a Fox News host, described the event he organized as nonpolitical.
St. Louisans in the crowd said they had journeyed to Washington in hopes of sending a message to fellow Americans about what they regard as perilous times.
"This is to wake up the people. The politicians don't listen," said Gerard Barron, 54, who owns a construction company in Ballwin.
Tom Gates, 64, a retired banker from Chesterfield, said his disgust at the government's deficit spending had prompted him to make the trip.
"You can't spend what you don't have," he said.
John Schneiderhahn, who owns two tropical fish stores in the St. Louis area, said he was downright frightened by what he saw in the local economy.
"I'm scared that where we're going is not a good place. There is no good ending to this story unless we make a U-turn," he said.
Critics gather here
About 30 people gathered Saturday near the Stan Musial statue outside Busch Stadium to decry La Russa's and Pujols' participation in the Washington rally. The protest here was organized by Metropolitan Organizations Strengthening and Empowering Society.
"I'm fed up that politics has to invade every aspect of our lives," said Chris Andoe, a Cardinals fan who carried several signs, including one that said "I had a dream baseball wasn't political," a reference to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech.
Ken McKoy, the executive director of the society, said it was hypocritical for anyone from the Cardinals organization to attend a rally with themes opposing government intervention when tax dollars helped fund construction of the stadium, an act he called "corporate welfare."
St. Louis Alderman Terry Kennedy and Normandy Mayor Patrick Green also spoke at the rally.
Leah Thorsen of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
(Pujols Family Foundation website can be seen here)