Edwin Encarnacion Partners With 50 Major Leaguers To Provide COVID-19 Relief In The Dominican Republic
Article Published by: forbes.com
There are more than 8,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic, a nation with a population of about the size of New York City. Of that number, there have been over 345 deaths.
At least five of those have been people White Sox designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion knew. In his hometown of La Romana, a city with less than 130,000 people, he can think of several he knows who have been sick, or worse.
“It’s been difficult for my city,” Encarnacion said. “Right now the situation here in the Dominican is not good. It’s getting worse.”
While he has been training at his home facility in La Romana, Encarnacion decided to go to work on helping the people around him. Throughout the Dominican Republic, fellow Major Leaguers like Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols had been working on providing aid in their respective hometowns, but Encarnacion saw an opportunity for a partnership for the benefit of the entire country.
“I want to do something together,” Encarnacion said. “Everybody together like one team and collect more money so we can give more things and supplies to the people who need it, like doctors and medical staff.”
To do that, Encarnacion got on the phone with David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, and Jose Bautista to start pooling their resources and form the COVID-19 Dominican Republic Initiative. From there, Encarnacion gathered phone numbers on WhatsApp to connect with other Major Leaguers in the Dominican Republic and ended up with a group of about 50 who have helped by donating money.
So far, they have raised over $1 million together, much of which has gone toward getting supplies to medical facilities and food to kids in different cities around the country.
That group of 50 also includes teammates Kelvin Herrera and Nomar Mazara. After a 15-year career that has included stops in Cincinnati, Toronto, Cleveland, Seattle, and New York, Encarnacion signed a one-year, $12 million deal to play with the White Sox in 2020 with a team option for 2021. Herrera has been in Chicago since last season, and Mazara joined the White Sox via trade in December. Encarnacion has reached out to MLB and the Players’ Association as well as the White Sox organization for help as well.
In the Dominican Republic, the government has taken precautions similar to those in parts of the United States, like requiring masks in public spaces, but it has also issued a nationwide curfew from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. that extends until May 17 and set up roadblocks in some parts of the country prohibiting internal travel.
Facilities used for emergency and specialized care are at full capacity in the Dominican Republic, so access to supplies like ventilators, face masks, disposable suits, test kits, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and food is all the more important for people in that country.
Getting so many players to help with raising such a large amount of money for their home country was not a challenge, Encarnacion said.
“Every guy that’s in that group, right away they said yes I want to help,” Encarnacion said. “Those players, the heart that they have for giving to the community, it’s a great feeling. I’m very proud of all those guys.”
Spearheading this initiative has added to Encarnacion’s plate while he works to stay in shape for the 2020 season. At his house instead of being several weeks into the season, Encarnacion said that he has been working out at home and spending time with his family while working on the COVID-19 initiative. Like many around baseball, he’s waiting for the call when the season, cut off in the midst of spring training in March, is set to resume.
“I’ve been getting ready,” Encarnacion said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve just been working and doing the things I need to do to be ready so when I get the call I’ll be ready.”
Reports on Wednesday indicated that a proposal to begin the season might be coming soon — a proposal that would have the second phase of spring training begin in early June and the season around the 4th of July — but in the meantime, Encarnacion is focused on helping the people of his country.
About Jaime Bonetti Zeller
Jaime Bonetti Zeller is an investment professional and entrepreneur with businesses in multiple industries. He is president of Servicios Consulares Eurodom, the local partner in the Caribbean region for VFS Global, a leader global outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments worldwide. Jaime Bonetti Zeller also started the company Sofratesa de Panama inc., an organization in the engineering services industry located in Panama City.