Justin Verlander, Cy Young-winning pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, is giving back to the community. Yes, JV has his own charity, and he wants you to get involved this Memorial Day. Verlander launched Wins for Warriors in 2013 as a way to give back to the veterans in our community. This Monday, May 25, you can get involved with Wins for Warriors, as Opportunity Detroit sponsors their first annual 9K (5.6 miles) run.
Participants will finish the race at home plate in Comerica Park, all while raising money for a great cause! Online registration closes on Saturday, May 23 at noon ET, but for no extra fee, runners have the option to register on the day of the race. Participants can also pay an additional amount, which will allow a veteran to participate in the race at no cost. Sign up today!
We had the opportunity to speak with Verlander about his charity, the 9K run and the city of Detroit.
JV: Wins for Warriors provides mental health support to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families in Detroit, as well as in Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia.
OD: Why did you choose a 9K?
JV: For obvious baseball reasons, nine innings ties to 9K but also because it was the best route to really showcase what is happening downtown. I am honored and privileged to represent this city and I want everyone to come down and check it out.
OD: Why did you create Wins for Warriors?
JV: I launched Wins for Warriors with a mission to empower those returning from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan who stand ready to continue to serve on behalf of all of us. By supporting their well being and overall behavioral health, we can impact not just their lives but the lives of their family and work to build a healthier community for all.
OD: What would you like to tell all the runners?
JV: Thank you! I appreciate you supporting me off the field and for joining me in acknowledging the great men and women who have served in our country’s armed forces.
OD: What would you like to tell veterans this Memorial Day?
JV: We recognize you, we honor you and without your service and sacrifice, I would not have the freedom and opportunity to play the game that I love.
OD: Do you have any personal connections to the military and/or veterans?
JV: Growing up in Richmond and attending college in Norfolk, surrounded by the largest naval base in the world, it was always a cause I cared about.
OD: How many veterans have been impacted by Wins for Warriors since it started in August 2013?
JV: Since we launched, we have provided close to $600,000 in funding to our partner organizations. This includes local support for The Mission Continues, Give an Hour and M-SPAN at U of M. Through these programs, we have reached hundreds of veterans and their family members in the greater Detroit area.
OD: How can someone get involved if they aren’t running in the race?
OD: How has Detroit changed since you came here in 2005?
JV: The resurgence of Detroit ever since I arrived in 2005 has been an amazing transition. I arrived when Detroit was experiencing very difficult challenges. It was not a great time for the city and its people. Since then, slowly but surely, I have watched it come back. Within the last couple years there has been a dramatic change bringing many people to not only visit downtown Detroit but to live here. I’m proud to say I’m part of a city that was able to fight its way back.
OD: What does the city of Detroit mean to you?
JV: This city means a great deal to me. My name will forever be linked with Detroit and that’s something I’m very proud of. I like to think in some small way I helped to make a difference in a city that needed it.
OD: What’s some of your favorite social spots in the city of Detroit?
JV: I am excited for the entire social scene downtown…unfortunately (Tigers schedule) I do not get to spend as much time as I would like. There are a few new restaurants downtown that I’m anxious to try and hopefully will get there soon.