Sunday marked the third time Rays infielder Daniel Robertson held his foundation's annual offseason fundraiser in his hometown of Upland, Calif. Each year, the event — which helps families touched by cancer in need of financial assistance — has grown significantly.
"This year, I was just blown away," Robertson said of the turnout, which brought about 400 people to his gym to for his Daniel Roberston Family Foundation mini-fanfest event.
Robertson said he modeled the event after the Rays' fanfest event with games, autograph signings and interaction with big league players.
He created his foundation after his father, Don, passed away from lung cancer in 2013. Robertson's family was able to remain financially stable through his father's three-year fight with cancer, but that's not the case with every family. So he built the foundation to help offset those families' added expenses.
"When families are told they have cancer, their world goes into a spiral, so anything we can do to help those families, it's really an honor," Robertson said. "Over the course of this last year, we've helped a family where the husband was dealing with treatment and we helped pay the mortgage bill on the house and also helped with some medical bills for another family."
This year's event included Rays pitcher Jake Faria and recently-traded former Rays first baseman Jake Bauers. The event promoted a mystery guest: It was future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols.
"You can't say enough about him," Robertson said. "Albert Pujols coming to Upland, Calif., just to support me and support what I'm doing to hang out with some fans and sign some autographs is pretty special."
Robertson said proceeds doubled the nearly $10,000 that last year's event raised.
"It's really cool to see it start from the ground up," Roberston said. "It's really cool to see it evolve over the years. Even just to impact the kids and families who come, to see the smile on their faces, just kind of give back to the community for a great cause, also makes you feel good as well."
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.