Lannan one of many Nats providing hope

Lannan one of many Nats providing hope

WASHINGTON -- Since they arrived in the nation's capital in 2005, the Nationals have always given back in the D.C. metro area, and '09 was no different.

For example, they visited wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, hosted numerous baseball clinics at Nationals Park and donated almost 100,000 tickets to various groups.

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Left-hander John Lannan received the most recognition when it came to giving back in Washington. He was the Nats' candidate for the Roberto Clemente Award this season, which recognizes the player who combines giving back to the community with outstanding on-field skills.

Lannan serves as a sports ambassador for The Children's Inn at the National Institutes of Health. The Children's Inn is a residential "place like home" for sick children and their families who have come from across the country and around the world to undergo newly developed therapies at the NIH, the world's leading biomedical research center.

The children who seek treatment at NIH are facing life-threatening illnesses that resist conventional therapy. There is no charge to the families for medical treatment at NIH, nor is there a charge for staying at the Inn. By serving as a sports ambassador, Lannan is helping to bring awareness to The Children's Inn and raising funds to support it.

In addition to serving as an sports ambassador, Lannan launched Lannan's Cannons, a ticket program designed to bring joy to the children and families at The Children's Inn. Through this program, Lannan hosted residents from the Inn at Nationals Park during Sunday home games. Each guest received a ticket to the game, a food voucher and a Lannan's Cannons T-shirt. Lannan also met with the children and their families at the ballpark.

The lefty is also very generous in donating his time for numerous Nationals team functions. One such function that Lannan is involved with is the Nationals' Winter Tour, which stops at Food & Friends to pack meals for people living with life-challenging illnesses throughout the Washington, D.C., area and at the Children's National Medical Center to visit with patients undergoing treatment.

Lannan wasn't the only one going out in the community. This past Monday, right-hander Craig Stammen and members of the Nationals' front-office staff teamed up with Food & Friends volunteers to prepare Thanksgiving meals.

The group spent two hours helping prepare the 8,400 pounds of turkey, 975 pounds of cornbread stuffing, 1,050 pounds of mashed potatoes and 2,600 dinner rolls that Food & Friends will deliver on Thanksgiving morning.

The nutritious dinners are designed to feed at least four people, giving those afflicted with disease the opportunity to host a Thanksgiving meal -- a small yet significant luxury that few get to enjoy when stricken with an illness.

"It was a lot of fun," Stammen said. "We went there and tried to bring a little bit of what we get to enjoy for Thanksgiving. We tried to help some people who are a little less fortunate and let them enjoy Thanksgiving the way it should be."

The Nationals are indeed champions off the field.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.