Samantha Ford, a Saugus Union School District (SUSD) physical education Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), was selected to throw the first pitch at the 40th Annual City of Santa Clarita Dodger Day May 20.
“It’s such an honor,” Ford said. “It’s crazy. I didn’t expect any of this to happen.”
Ford was selected to throw the first pitch because of her efforts in organizing a shoe drive to bring new athletic shoes to her students.
“We were looking for a guest of honor to throw the first pitch and Samantha immediately came to mind for her amazing charitable work,” said Patrick Downing, Santa Clarita’s Arts and Events supervisor in a press release.
Ford began the shoe drive in December 2016 when she noticed that some students at Cedarcreek Elementary School were wearing rundown and incorrectly-sized shoes to gym class.
“My goal is to get kids up and moving and they need good shoes to do that,” Ford told The Signal in December.
Since the shoe drive launched four months ago, Ford has collected nearly 1,000 shoes from friends, community members, professional athletes, non-profit groups, companies, organizations, churches and individuals across the country.
Her goal is to outfit every SUSD student in need, from Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to sixth grade, with a new pair of athletic shoes so they can exercise and play safely.
“I’m on my last school,” she said of her current efforts at Rio Vista Elementary School. “I have about half of the shoes I need. I still need about 200 more pairs.”
This will be the second time Ford, a former softball player and coach, will throw a ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
Several years ago she had the opportunity to throw an underhand pitch to former Los Angeles Dodger leftfielder and pinch hitter Manny Mota, who she struck out.
“People ask, ‘Are you going to throw it underhand or overhead?’” she said. “I’ve already done underhand so I’m going to go traditional this time.”
Santa Clarita residents can watch Ford throw the first pitch and attend the May 20 game versus the Miami Marlins, by purchasing tickets online at SCVDodgerDay.com.
Ticket prices range from $29 to $85 and attendees will receive a free Dodgers pullover while supplies last.
“I hope everyone comes out,” Ford said. “It’s a super fun night and it’s great for the community to come together.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_