Adam Eaton Charity Car Show

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I willingly put on real pants (a rarity on a weekend) and left my house at the crack of dawn to attend Adam Eaton’s Rev Up the Park charitable event at Nationals Park, and it was totally worth the effort. The event brought together hundreds of car lovers, Nats fans, and Eaton’s teammates Gio Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick to enjoy some coffee and conversation while raising money for the Dragonfly Foundation.

The Nats rehabbing centerfielder had the idea for a cars and coffee charity event during spring training and with the Dragonfly Foundation and the Washington Nationals lending their support and the newly named “Geico Garage” formerly known as “Garage B” in leftfield they set in motion this first event that hopefully will be an annual event.

“Getting together with Jayson [Werth] and a few other guys,” Eaton said. “I knew that there was a very vibrant car fanbase here, so I thought ‘let’s try to do cars and coffee.’ We started talking about it in spring training and throughout the season it started to amount to something. [The Nationals] did a great job helping me put this on. It all just came together, and it actually turned out way better than I thought it was going to. I was hoping for 100 cars, and I think we got 200 and I don’t even know how many. You can have all these events all you want, but if you don’t have the people, it doesn’t matter. People really showed up, and I’m very thankful for all the money we’ve been able to raise. That’s really the key to success.”

Rev Up the Park was a benefit for the Dragonfly Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to helping children and young adults with cancer and their families.

“Ever since I signed professionally, I’ve always wanted to gravitate towards a charity,” Eaton said.

He became connected with the Dragonfly Foundation while he was in college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Eaton visited a hospital with his baseball teammates and met the charity’s co-founder Christine Neitzke and her son Matt, who had been diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Co-founder Ria Davidson was at the event today, and she said that Eaton followed Matt throughout his treatment and connected with the foundation.

“He’s followed us from Miami, to the Diamondbacks, to the White Sox, and now the Nationals,” Ria Davidson said. “I can’t even say enough great things about him as a person. As great of a ballplayer as he is, he’s the best soul you can meet.”

Davidson explained that the Dragonfly Foundation works with patients who “range in age from birth to age 30, and we take care of them from their date of diagnosis until they’re well past 5 years clean. We also support their siblings, offspring, parents, and caregivers as they go through their own journeys. We’re currently in five locations at four hospitals in two states, and we’re trying to grow to as many hospitals as we can.”

Photo for TalkNats with permission from MrNatsFan1a

They work on improving quality of life while the team of doctors focus on curing the cancer. They provide in-hospital assistance, such as providing laptops, video games, and toys, as well as help outside of the hospital. “We do 3-12 patents events a week for our families, and they can go to as many events as we can get them to.” A large part of the support they provide is connecting patients together in order to “help them build community and help them feel like they’re part of a family, not a foundation.”

“To help children with cancer,” Adam Eaton said. “What more empathy is needed there? Children that are stronger than a lot of adults, and go through more than we ever go through. If we can help them out in any way, shape, or form, that’s why I’ve chosen them to always give back.”

Cars filled the top floor of the Geico Garage at Nats Park and spilled onto the level below as local enthusiasts gathered to show off their vehicles. Eaton said Phoenix Bats donated 12 wooden mini bats, and after giving two of them out to spectators, he gave the remaining 10 to people who brought cars that he especially liked. He highlighted a DeLorean, a large contingent of Dodge vehicles that were present, and a 1940s Cadillac. Eaton brought his Cadillac, which he’s named Casper, to show off, and Gio brought his “G Wagon,” a white AMG Mercedes, and Kendrick brought his AMG SUV as well. Of his teammates, Eaton said “those two guys really showed up for me and had a great time, and they both raved about how many people showed up, which is great.”

On his own car collection, Eaton said “I have the Cadillac [I brought here], I have a Corvette Grand Sport at home, and then I have a Ford Raptor. Howie Kendrick, he’s got like 8 or 9 cars, and Jayson [Werth] has 9 or 10 cars, so I’m not quite their status yet, but I’d like to think that I’m a little more selective in my car choice. We’ll see what happens.” What’s next up to add to his growing collection? “The mid engine Corvette. Hopefully this gets out there and they hear me talk about it, because it’s going to be a short list and I want to be on it. Supposed to be production in 2019, hopefully it’ll be out in 2020. That’s my number one right now. I’m letting the gun cool a little bit from [the Cadillac]. My wife might kill me if I buy another one really quickly. Let the gun cool down a little bit, and hopefully ‘19/’20 I’ll be able to get the mid engine. We’ll see what happens. Like I said, you’ve got to get on that list, and that’s going to be the tough part.” So, if you’re listening, Corvette people – Adam Eaton wants on that list. Let’s make that happen.

Eaton was excited about the variety of cars that were at the show. “All walks of life, that’s what I was really hopeful to bring here. We had some new, we had some old, we had some modified, we had some resto mods.” Listening to Eaton talk throughout the morning, you could hear his passion for all types of cars, and how they can be customized to show off the uniqueness of their owners. “That’s what I love about cars. It’s your own personality on the outside. It’s a driving piece of art, in my book. I love to do this, it’s why I have the event. People get to show off their pieces of art, all individual to each, and share a little bit of baseball at the same time.”

Eaton wants to make this an annual event, and he is hopeful he will get to upgrade the venue just a bit for next year. “I’m going to try to get it on the field next year at some point. It’s going to be late in the year, in November after the season is over. That’s what I’m really going to push, I’m going to put the pressure on them [the Nationals]. They have concerts, there’s no reason to not have 250 cars in the outfield. I think that would really be something special.”

I agree, Adam. I think moving this event down to the field would be spectacular. As someone who knows squat about cars, I still had a fantastic time this morning at the Park supporting Adam and the Dragonfly Foundation, and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

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