Joe Maddon Hosts Annual Fundraiser For Hazleton Integration Project

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HAZLE TOWNSHIP -- A major league Hazleton native is home for the holidays.

Friday night Chicago Cubs' manager Joe Maddon held his annual dinner and sports auction. Once again, he brought in some heavy hitters to help him.

When Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon throws his annual fundraiser, he always brings in some famous friends.

More than 600 people came to the ticketed dinner and auction to rub elbows with former Dallas Cowboy Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones and retired major league baseball player Manny Ramirez.

And of course, all attendants were here to see and support Maddon's cause.

“I’m a big baseball fan so I like seeing Joe Maddon and try to bid for all the jerseys so I'm really into it,” said Ethan Warner.

Funds raised here at Genetti's near Hazleton will go to Maddon's Hazleton Integration Project, a community-based effort known commonly as HIP.

One of HIP's biggest projects was opening the Hazleton One Community Center in the city in 2013. It provides after school activities for the area's economically disadvantaged youth.

“Our kids are the best. They're beautiful,” said Maddon. “They speak the English language beautifully, respectful, they're just grateful.”

Chuck Zink was Maddon's high school football coach and comes up from his current home in York each year to attend this.

“It's phenomenal. I brought 45 people, guests here from York and Wellsboro to support Joe's HIP, so Joe's just a class act,” said Zink.

For Joe's famous friends, they didn't think twice after being asked to be a part of the fundraiser that will help children.

“When I look and see what he's doing here and what he's been able to turn around in a short period of time is absolutely amazing,” said Jones.

“Everything's about the kids, the positive things about the kids. They could come out lawyers, who knows? The sky's the limit,” said Ramirez.

The next project HIP is considering is developing a complex that would house baseball and softball fields, providing the area's underprivileged youth with a facility that could be used year-round.

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