The Washington Nationals did not play on Thursday night, their offday giving them time to recuperate from a 10-day west coast trip, but their home, Nationals Park, was alive and thriving for third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s annual charity event to benefit the ziMS foundation.
The fourth annual “A Night at the Park” packed almost 2,000 people into the concourses and luxury club areas of Nationals Park for dinner, drinks, a live auction, silent auction and performance by Third Eye Blind. The event raised over $300,000 for the ziMS foundation.
The event, which sold all 1,850 tickets available and had enough demand to sell anywhere from 300 to 400 more, was well-attended by Nationals players and other D.C. athletes.
Capitals forward Brooks Laich, several Redskins players, including Ryan Kerrigan and Nick Sundberg, and the majority of Zimmerman’s teammates joined in on a night that has grown exponentially in the first few years of its existence.
Just last year, “A Night at the Park” raised over $200,000 and drew 750 attendees. This year’s event had already raised over $300,000 before the silent and live auction totals had been tabulated.
“It’s crazy,” Zimmerman said at the start of the night. “I hope it continues to gain momentum for years to come. We want it to be something people want to come to.”
ziMS Foundation, Zimmerman’s personal charity, is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of Multiple Sclerosis by funding comprehensive support and educational programs.
To that end, Zimmerman presented $70,000 worth of donations to the multiple beneficiary organizations of the ziMS foundation on Thursday night.
It’s a cause close to Zimmerman’s heart as his mother, Cheryl, who was in attendance with the rest of Zimmerman’s family, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1995.
“A Night at the Park” is a fun night for Zimmerman, his family and his teammates, though. Particularly for his parents, Cheryl and Keith, who serve on the board of directors of the foundation and do a lot of work to put together their various events throughout the year, it’s a night to relax and enjoy.
“They love (this event) because they don’t have to do anything,” Zimmerman said with a laugh.
“They work everyday on different things. It’s kind of like us during the season. This is a moment for them to step back and enjoy it themselves. It’s not something you’d ever want to have to do, but it’s a great night.”