This is the first of six articles regarding Heartland Health’s sponsorships of Saint Joseph Mustangs baseball and the Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp. The Mustangs’ season started May 26. They will play a total of 46 games; 26 here in St. Joe at Phil Welch Stadium and 20 “away games,” including the last one on July 19 at Chillicothe. If the Mustangs make the playoffs, games will run through July 24. July 8 is Heartland Night at the Mustangs and Breast Cancer Awareness Night. Come to the game and wear your Team Heartland T–shirts to show your pride. The first 2,000 Mustangs fans who arrive at Phil Welch will receive a special HI fan. Caregivers can win tickets to any of the Mustangs’ home games by registering on the Heartland Intranet. And remember, Heartland, K–JO 105.5 and Q–Country sponsor fireworks every Saturday night! For a complete Mustangs schedule, please visit www.stjoemustangs.com.
Sabrina Vega, a registered nurse and assistant team leader in the Emergency Room at Heartland Regional Medical Center, has a son who is crazy about baseball. Last year, Sabrina and her family went to a number of Mustangs games courtesy of Heartland Health, which regularly offers tickets to caregivers. Friends of theirs, who were also at the games, were sponsoring a Mustangs player for the season.
Thinking about the fun they had at the games and their son, they decided to offer to be a host family for a Mustangs player. “My husband called to see if they needed host families for this year,” Sabrina says. All the Vegas needed to provide was a bed and one meal. Soon, the wheels were in motion and Cody Cunningham, a 19-year-old from Texas, was assigned to their family for the season.
“He plays for his school [Texas Western], and he’s pitching tomorrow night,” Sabrina says. Listening to her describe how they happened upon Cody lent insight into how important this relationship already was. Although it was true — all Cody needed was a bed and one meal — he was feeling right at home in the Vega’s finished basement, which was like his “apartment” for the summer. One meal a day has already turned in to “three squares.” “We’re eating as a family,” Sabrina says, “so of course he can eat with us.” Cody even mentioned the fact that he would like to come back and stay with them the following year, if the Vegas would have him.
Sabrina’s smile belies her family’s enthusiasm for the addition to the family. “It’s exciting to go and watch someone play baseball. It’s fun family time, and you get to acknowledge someone on the field,” she says, readily admitting that had it not been for the free tickets she received from Heartland, this opportunity may have gone by unnoticed. “Our 8–year–old is very excited to have him there.”
“We sponsor the Mustangs and Chiefs because both enhance the vitality of our community by encouraging all of us to get outside and be active and also by bringing tourism to St. Joseph,” says Chief Brand Officer Tama Wagner. “All you have to do is look into the stands at a Mustangs game or a Chiefs practice to know this is the right thing to do … both are almost filled with fans to near capacity,” Tama says.
“We’re always looking for something to do,” says Sabrina, a busy mom to three children ranging in age from 10–years–old to 22–months–old. “Mustangs’ baseball is a great way to spend the summer.”