'Mormon Champions' honored at San Francisco Giants' LDS Family Night

By Linnea Weller

For Mormon Times

Published: Wednesday, July 13 2011 7:00 a.m. MDT

SAN FRANCISCO — "Mormon Champions" were recently celebrated at AT&T Park.

On July 5, about 2,000 Mormon fans and their friends attended the annual LDS Family Night at the sold-out Giants game. LDS fans of all ages responded to the discount ticket offer and filled seats in the bleachers, lower box and view reserved sections. Fans commented on the family-friendly atmosphere at LDS Night and said they look forward to the tradition each year.

Over the past four years, LDS public affairs officials and Giants event staff have teamed up to feature LDS-centric programs to entertain church members at the game. The theme this year was a celebration of Mormon champions in the community.

To help the Bay Area learn about church members' commitment to community service, a pregame award ceremony was organized to honor seven Mormons, who were nominated by local church leaders, including stake presidency members and bishops.

Matt Ball, Northwest Public Affairs director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presented the awards. Ball oversees public affairs activities and region-wide service projects, such as Mormon Helping Hands, throughout California and Hawaii.

Larry Frederick of the Santa Rosa area, escorted by his wife, Gail, was recognized for outstanding service as a blood donation advocate. Thirty years ago he was struck by a drunk driver on a highway while on duty as an Oakland police officer, and 110 units of blood and several surgeries were required to save his life. Frederick later organized an annual cross-country biking tour that raises awareness for blood drives across America.

Colette Ankenman, 18, of Danville, Calif., escorted by her father, Gregg, was honored for founding the nonprofit organization Baragwanath Blessings, which provides humanitarian service for babies and children in 20 third-world countries and in the Bay Area. Her projects have improved the health and quality of life for thousands of children and families. Donations are hand-delivered and as many items as possible are handmade to show people that someone cared enough to make something for them.

Linda Higham, of Lafayette, Calif., escorted by her husband, Frank, was honored as an educational leader and children's literacy advocate. Higham is a former teacher who owns and operates a local children's bookstore. Each year she donates books and gift certificates to schools and charities. She helps with book fairs and supports literacy programs such as the Contra Costa Reading Association.

Travis and Trent Weaver, twin brothers serving in the U.S. Army, were honored for outstanding military service. They served in Iraq and are awaiting their next assignment. They carry on the legacy of military service that their grandfather started as a decorated WW II hero. Their father is also a veteran.

Don Eaton and his wife, Glenna, were honored for outstanding volunteerism. Don Eaton served in a recon platoon in the First Air Cavalry in the Vietnam War. As a Bay Area resident for more than 38 years, Don gave service to his community through four terms on the San Carlos City Council, with three terms as mayor. He founded the annual San Carlos Week of the Family, which is now in its 12th year. He also serves on the board of the Pacific Skyline Council of the Boy Scouts of America. As the LDS Church's regional public affairs director, he helped organize countless service projects, including 10,000 Bay Area volunteers participating in Mormon Helping Hands projects and other Interfaith projects, like the current Red Cross-sponsored Catholic-Mormon Interfaith Blood Drive taking place right now throughout the Bay Area.

Glenna Eaton has served on four different PTA boards. Sequoia Union High School District awarded her the Volunteer of the Year award. She serves as a committee chair for the annual San Carlos Hometown Days. She also volunteers at The Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos and at a family history center in Menlo Park.

To close the ceremony, the announcer said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expresses its appreciation to these individuals for their selfless service. Together with the Giants, we hope to inspire everyone to be a champion in the community."

A 90-second public service announcement produced by local public affairs specialists then appeared on the scoreboard screen. As the HD presentation was airing, full-time missionaries from the California Oakland/San Francisco Mission walked out onto center field. The announcer then introduced the missionary choir, which sang the National Anthem.

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