Phillies' Moyer urges graduates to "give back"

Jamie Moyer waits in the procession with graduates at the Kimmel Center. The Moyer Foundation founder and Phillies pitcher received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
Jamie Moyer waits in the procession with graduates at the Kimmel Center. The Moyer Foundation founder and Phillies pitcher received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
Posted: May 12, 2009

Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer told the 536 graduates of Holy Family University yesterday that although they will experience obstacles in life, they must always give back to the community.

"To me, it's about enjoying the moment, giving back, realizing that you're in a special place and you have some great opportunities ahead of you," Moyer said moments before he gave the commencement address at the Kimmel Center yesterday afternoon.

"The road is not going to be smooth, but you can always remember that no matter what you're doing, how much success you're having, that you can always give back and make a difference to the community you live and work in."

Moyer kept his message brief: His speech lasted about three minutes. Just before his address, Moyer was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters for his work with the Moyer Foundation, an organization created in 2000 that helps children cope with physical, emotional or financial distress.

"For a kid who grew up in Pennsylvania, playing ball and rooting for the Phillies, and now to be receiving an honorary degree from this wonderful institution, I can honestly tell you I did not see this coming," Moyer said.

The commencement address was a first for Moyer. He was accompanied by his sister and parents.

Moyer, 46, and his wife, Karen, the parents of seven children between the ages of 3 and 18, received honorary doctorates in public service from St. Joseph's University, his alma mater, on April 30.

"Once I was established in baseball, and Karen and I had started our family, we saw that baseball provided us with a platform," Moyer said yesterday. "We knew it was an opportunity to use the platform to do good for others. As a result, we started the Moyer Foundation with the mission of helping kids in distress, and the goal of encouraging others in our community to join us in supporting our mission."

The Moyer Foundation has raised more than $17 million to assist more than 170 nonprofit organizations that serve children. Among the foundation's most recognized programs is Camp Erin, the largest national network of bereavement camps for children and teens. This year, the organization is launching programs in 12 new cities, bringing the total to 28 camps in 18 states.

University president Sister Francesca Onley, who conducted her 28th commencement at Holy Family yesterday, said she was pleased to honor Moyer.

"I hope students are excited in the fact that he is investing his money to help" bereaved children, "and that is why we selected to honor him," Sister Onley said. "He is a wonderful human being."

Graduate Robert Curcio, 22, met Moyer before the ceremony.

"It's pretty surreal," said Curcio, who received his undergraduate degree in psychology. "You never get that close to a legend."

He said Moyer's message was clear - "Anyone can make a difference."

Despite being a Yankees fan, graduate Maureen Ceo of New York City said she enjoyed Moyer's speech.

"It was very exciting," Ceo said. "Anyone who wants to help kids is great."

Graduate Eddie Greene, 25, said that because his school's campus is in Northeast Philadelphia, a Phillies player was an appropriate commencement speaker.

"Being a former basketball player at Holy Family, I know it's not all about the sports all the time," Greene said. "You have to give back to those less fortunate than you. Jamie Moyer is an excellent example of that."

At the closing of the graduation ceremonies, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was played and the graduates "root, root, rooted" for the Phillies.


Contact staff writer Brittany Talarico at btalarico@phillynews.com.

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