THE INCREASE: Use Your Game – Luke Weaver

Recently my wife, Olivia, and I returned from a trip with Adam Wainwright and his family to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This being our second year traveling down with Adam and the Water Mission team to Haiti, we were a little more comfortable with our mission and excited to be more involved in serving these people by creating water resources for those who are in need. This year, we decided to tack on a trip to the Dominican Republic, where we would be able to see firsthand how our strikeouts were impacting others.

With the platform I’ve been given, I want to use my gifts in a positive way — to make an impact. For some time now, it’s been on both my own heart and my wife’s heart to find a way to give back to others. As we prayed together and listened for God’s answer, we also kept our eyes and ears open to opportunities that might come our way.

When I saw that Adam began a campaign last season to fight hunger (see Adam’s article “One Pitch at a Time”), I thought I would make a pledge to his campaign. For every strikeout he pitched, pledgers would donate money to Big League Impact (a non-profit organization whose mission is to save lives, build dignity and give hope to communities around the world). I was excited to make a pledge to Adam’s campaign, until a friend challenged me with the idea to start my own campaign for the same cause so I could create a greater impact with the sphere of influence I have.

So halfway through last season, I began my own campaign, and as soon as I did, my strikeout count started going up. I was striking out more batters per game than I ever had before! Now that I look back, I see God’s timing and hand in that. I know I can’t take any of the credit for it. He made sure some of those batters missed my pitches by just a couple of inches so that more lives would be saved.

Being able to visit the Dominican Republic during the offseason — to watch agricultural resources and training take place, hungry people fed, and local communities being transformed, not just for the short-term, but with long-term solutions — was incredible. It brought purpose to what I’m doing on the mound. Anytime you can physically go out and see the impact you are able to have on others, it brings so much more weight and meaning into your purpose. We are able to help bring jobs, food, resources and training to people who would otherwise go without, not only helping this generation but the future of these communities.

This year, as we kick off our campaigns for Striking Out Poverty, our goal is not only to raise money through our own campaigns, but to encourage a bunch more players to create their own in order to reach a greater sphere of people with this mission. Whether they are a position player or a pitcher, there’s always a way to use your game to raise money. Hopefully this movement continues to trickle down into the organization so more and more lives will be transformed and given hope for the future.

Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher