Clint Hurdle was hired as the manager of the Pirates in November of 2010, but he had a connection to Pittsburgh that was very important to him before that.
In 2006, during his stint as skipper of the Colorado Rockies, Hurdle began a relationship with the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. He and his wife Karla have a 10-year-old daughter named Madison, who was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome -- a rare and complex genetic disorder that affects many parts of the body -- and the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh is the only hospital-based site in the world that offers treatment for those affected by it.
This past December 11, as the first official stop on the team's annual Winter Caravan, Hurdle was part of a large contingent from the Pirates and Pirates Charities that presented a $200,000 check to the Children's Institute's Centers of Excellence, which specialize in care for Prader-Willi Syndrome, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and autism.
The proceeds donated were the direct result of the money raised through the Pirates Charities Root Sports Auction last August and the Wins for Kids program, where fans make a donation to the cause for each Pirates victory over the course of the season. Hurdle is also the national spokesperson for Prader-Willi Syndrome.
"I can't say enough about Clint Hurdle and his passion for individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome," said David Miles, President and CEO of the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. "He's been an outstanding spokesperson, not only for the institute, but for the national association as well. I'm overwhelmed by him at times. We've had Clint come in and talk to groups for us, and every single time it's just been a really moving experience."
Miles also expressed his gratitude to everyone else associated with the Pirates during his remarks at the check presentation ceremonies, but that day the organization wanted the spotlight to shine on the Children's Institute.
"David, you and your team are the real heroes," said Bob Nutting, the Chairman of the Pirates and Pirates Charities. "We know that your dedication and your team's dedication day after day and year after year are what truly make the greatest impact. We're here to say thank you and to support you and do what we can.
"Delivering a check or writing a check is important and we're pleased to do it, but I think Pirates Charities -- much like the Children's Institute -- really is about caring and about families and about hope and about love. It's about how we reach out and help each other, and that's something that you all do here every single day."
Hurdle's relationship with the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh was at least part of the reason the opportunity to manage the Pirates seemed like such a good fit.
"Finding a place like this where I could get involved and use the platform I have to help make a significant difference in the lives of these children and in the lives of like-minded families with the same set of challenges that we have, it just felt right. It made sense," Hurdle said. "The Children's Institute has been a special place for us for eight years. I've watched it grow and many of the people here have watched Madi grow up. So there's just a lot of feel-good going on at the Children's Institute for the Hurdle family.
"What I've come to learn in the 10 years of Madi's existence, and through the experiences we've had with her is that we're in a better place with our children with Prader-Willi now than we were 10 years ago. We continue to make advancements and improvements as so many people reach out to help us. Madi has a brighter future than the generation that was before her, and truly, we can help level the playing field and give these children opportunities to have a meaningful life."
Members of the Pirates organization who joined Hurdle and Nutting at the December check presentation, and the holiday party for patients and students that followed, included President Frank Coonelly and two of Hurdle's players -- All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen and relief pitcher Jared Hughes.
"We all know that a critical part of what Pirates Charities can do is to help support organizations in our community that really impact positively the lives of children and families throughout the region, and the Children's Institute is such a wonderful example of that kind of organization," Nutting said. "We were proud to expand our support of the Children's Institute this year."