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Hanrahan aiding in relief efforts

Hanrahan aiding in relief efforts

WASHINGTON -- Joel Hanrahan just couldn't sit idly by with a baseball field underwater.

A native of Norwalk, Iowa -- located about 10 miles south of Des Moines -- Hanrahan has felt personally the pain and devastation accompanying severe flooding in parts of Iowa, including Des Moines. Moved to do something to help, Hanrahan partnered with the American Red Cross in a fund-raising campaign, the primary staple of which is an online auction to raise money for disaster relief.

"It's devastating," Hanrahan said. "Des Moines, after the '93 floods, they went through a little bit of change, and they just got done rebuilding downtown, cleaning it up, making it a little bit nicer."

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Hanrahan said his brother sent him pictures of the city under water, and the Nationals reliever said looking at those photographs spurred him to action.

"Seeing those pictures really got to me," Hanrahan said. "My brother's Little League field that he played on -- the water was all the way up to the backstop."

Headlining the fund-raising efforts -- proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund -- will be an online auction run through nationals.com. The auction, which began on Thursday, June 26, and will run through Thursday, July 3, is accessible by visiting the Web site and looking under the Nationals insider tab.

Up for bidding in the auction are 13 different items or "experience packages," according to a Nationals press release. At stake are pitching rubbers signed by Don Sutton and Jim Palmer, game-used items -- including a baseball from the Nationals' June 6, 2006, home game against the Yankees -- and a round of golf with Nationals players.

Perhaps the crown jewel of the auction, however, is termed the "Ultimate Nats Fan Experience." Donated by the Lerner family, the package includes four Presidents Club tickets, batting practice passes and autographed baseballs, a meet-and-greet with Hanrahan and other Nationals players, a scoreboard welcome and a ballpark tour.

In addition to the auction, Nationals fans will have the chance to donate to the relief effort during Washington's upcoming series against Baltimore. Fans interested in doing so should go to the Nationals Community Table, located in the Center Field Plaza at Nationals Park. Red Cross volunteers will also be at the center-field, third-base and home-plate gates during the Nationals-Orioles series.

Hanrahan said Thursday that he felt inspired by other athletes' charitable work in the state, including Indy Racing series drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon, who donated their winnings from the Iowa Corn Indy 250 to relief efforts.

Hanrahan said athletes should try to get involved, because they have the means by which to organize major fund-raising efforts and raise public awareness for causes.

"It's a fortunate situation that I'm in where I'm here and I've got the people here [to make a fundraiser possible]," Hanrahan said. "[We're going to do] as much as we can do to help out, take advantage of the situation that we're in and see if we can get people to help out."

Zachary Osterman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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