Swinging for a Cause

Swinging for a Cause

Luke Weaver and Nick Ahmed host fundraiser at Topgolf

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

When the St. Louis Cardinals traded Luke Weaver and his good friend Carson Kelly to the D-backs for Paul Goldschmidt, the 25-year-old pitcher saw it as a new chapter in his life, and a way to make his mark.

“I thought, ‘I have an open slate and a clean slate,’” Weaver recalls. “My wife and I wanted to make sure we were making an impact. We want people in other parts of the world to know we haven’t forgotten about them.”

To further his cause, Weaver and his new teammate Nick Ahmed united to raise money for their respective charities recently at Topgolf Riverwalk at Talking Stick. The evening included food, drinks and competition.

Aside from admission, fans could pay $20 to swing against their favorite players, including Greg Holland, Robbie Ray, Carson Kelly, Merrill Kelly, David Peralta, Adam Jones and Blake Swihart.

Weaver and his wife, Olivia, recently launched The 22X Campaign, a multifaceted relief effort to aid Rohingya (Myanmar) refugees.

“We’ve already raised over $100,000 to provide emergency aid, medicine, food, water and training to the refugees and the people providing care for them,” Weaver says. “Olivia and I are dedicated to this cause.”

Weaver was inspired to give back by former Cardinals’ teammate Adam Wainwright, who started Big League Impact. Big League Impact has collected over $3 million to support approximately 60 players’ projects to provide clean water, food, humanitarian aid, health care, education, sustainable farming and infrastructure.

“When I was playing in St. Louis and coming up, he was a mentor for me in the baseball world,” Weaver says of Wainwright. “I saw what he was doing outside of the field and being able to reach out to people in various countries and giving back. I was very inspired by that and we became very good friends.”

The Weavers traveled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic to see Wainwright’s efforts. Last year, Weaver raised more than $23,000 to help build two baseball fields and a sustainable farm in the Dominican communities of Hoyo Oscuro and Camarón.

“I tried to look and search for what was really hitting my heart. You can’t really force something like this. This one called out to me for sure,” Weaver says.

As for Ahmed, his pledge campaign raised $45,000 last season to build a water infrastructure and purification system for the people of El Mogote. This year, he and his wife Amanda are matching up to $75,000 toward their fundraising efforts to be split between helping build a community center in the same region in the Dominican Republic and in supporting the Phoenix Rescue Mission, whose vision is to transform lives of those struggling with homelessness, addiction and trauma.

“Amanda and I are committed to restoring and developing communities here and abroad,” Ahmed says.

Prior to joining the D-backs, Weaver only casually knew Ahmed through their charity work.

“We thought this would be a cool thing,” Weaver says about the fundraiser. “This is the part of the season where it’s really grinding a little bit and it’s getting a little tough. We just wanted to decompress and have some fun.” ν