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Airman strengthens communities with passion for baseball

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tony Harp
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing

Chief Master Sgt. Greg Souders developed two passions from his father: the passion to serve his country through service in the United States Air Force and a love of baseball.

Souders, superintendent of the 193rd Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, now combines these two passions for a good cause. Using the leadership and mentoring experience gained from more than 30 years in the Air National Guard, Souders volunteers his time with the non-profit organization Baseball Miracles, which brings baseball clinics to under-served communities from around the world. 

It was a part-time position as an usher with the Harrisburg Senators minor-league baseball team that led Souders to connect with people from within the professional baseball community. During this time, Souders met John Tumminia, a scout for the Chicago White Sox and founder of Baseball Miracles. 

Through Tumminia, Souders began volunteering with the Baseball Miracles organization around 2012. 

He began serving as an ambassador for the organization in 2012, then moved on to become a team member, and most recently has been accepted into the leadership team, said Tumminia. 

Kyle Bamberger, a communications coordinator and administrator with Baseball Miracles, explained the role Souders has played within the organization.

“Greg's role in the organization is constantly evolving,” said Bamberger. “Early on, he helped in his local community. Working with the Harrisburg Senators and others, Greg helped with equipment donations and awareness for the cause. As Greg has become more involved, his leadership and natural energy has been incredibly impactful for the team. He continues to build momentum and help us grow at the same time.” 

Souders helped lead his first Baseball Miracles event this past December in Yabucao, Puerto Rico.

“It was the hardest hit area from Hurricane Maria. We provided community service and baseball clinics to the children of that area,” said Souders. “It was probably about 700 kids. We provided not only baseball clinics, but they all got a brand new baseball glove; they got t-shirts; they got balls. All that stuff was donated, and that was kind of my role as a logistics guy, getting the donations.”

Souders spoke on the impact the events have, not only on the children, but for the community as a whole. 

“You are touching the lives of kids who are in less fortunate situations,” said Souders. “It’s not just the baseball thing. There’s a coat drive that we do each year, food bank, street clean ups. In Puerto Rico, we painted the office areas and grandstand, and repaired their batting cages. That’s impactful because that is directly linked to the community and to the kids.”

The organization had its own staff for the event in Puerto Rico, but as the event began and people started spreading the word, they had a few unexpected guests.

“During that period there, former and current Major League Baseball players found out about this clinic and then one night they just started showing up,” said Souders. “There were six players that showed up to help out with this clinic.”

Souders said they stay within the community during the events and, for the Puerto Rico trip, they slept on cots in the training facility. He joked that he was very much at home with the accommodations thanks to his multiple deployments and training missions while serving in the military.

Bamberger worked alongside Souders during the trip to Puerto Rico.

“From my experiences working with Greg, some main things that stand out to me are his selflessness, demeanor and positive attitude,” said Bamberger. “No matter what, he is always willing to give more than he receives. On our trip to Puerto Rico, he had a calming presence about him that rubbed off on everyone, even when we were all out of our comfort zones. He brings a positivity to the table that aligns with what Baseball Miracles does. We work to put smiles on faces, and Greg certainly helps us accomplish that.” 

Souders is very humble about his experiences and says helping is the reason he puts in the time to volunteer.

“If you’re passionate about something and it’s purposeful, by all means just chase it,” said Souders. “There’s a lot of good to do out there. I feel what I do out there is two-fold. It’s rewarding to me, but it’s not just about me, it’s rewarding to the recipient of what we do as a non-profit organization.