On June 3, 2015, two years into the ten-year contract he signed with the Mariners, Robinson Canó hosted the inaugural Canoche, the signature event for his RC22 foundation. Held at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, the guest list featured Seattle sports luminaries like Kam Chancellor; most of Canó’s teammates, including Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz; stars from the baseball world like Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia; and of course, Jay-Z (and Macklemore, because 2015). A select number of tickets were made available to Mariners season-ticket holders, but other than that, the red-carpet event, which included dinner, entertainment, and a silent auction of baseball memorabilia, among other things, was highly exclusive. By the end of the night, over 1.1 million dollars had been raised to kickstart the RC22 Dream School in Canó’s hometown of San Pedro de Macoris, along with funds for several Seattle-based programs.
Canóche—this time with the accent—was scheduled to make its return on May 14 this year. I received an email about it and marked it on my calendar (at $500 for an entry-level ticket, I wasn’t planning on going, you understand; just writing about it the day after). One day in late April, while planning stories for the week, I happened to look up the fundraiser again, to see it had been moved to July 23rd. I shrugged and changed the date in my calendar, not thinking much of it. This year’s event was scheduled to be held at the decidedly more lowkey Fremont Studios and set to honor Russell Wilson and his “Why Not You” foundation, but with a significantly toned-down guest list if not a toned-down ticket price. Then, on May 15, news of Canó’s suspension broke, and the sudden reschedule made sense.
Yesterday was the makeup date, but in searching Twitter and trawling Google, I can’t find any confirmation that Canóche actually happened. If it did, it happened without the man himself, as Canó is reportedly in the Dominican Republic getting game-ready for a mid-August return to the team. It’s undeniable that Robinson Canó’s legacy as a baseball player will be complicated by this suspension; however, the legacy of Robinson Canó, teammate, humanitarian, and servant of his fellow man should remain untouched. One year after Canoché, the RC22 Dream School graduated its first class of youngsters:
The RC22 DREAM School graduated its FIRST class on Friday. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in making this happen!...Posted by Robinson Cano's RC22 Foundation on Monday, June 20, 2016
Preschool education and Kindergarten (before the age of six to seven) is not compulsory in the DR and therefore schools that provide a structured pre-K program, like Canó’s Dream School, are limited—and schools that provide this education at no cost, virtually nonexistent. The Dream School also provides programs for adult education and community service to serve the community in a holistic way; an important service considering the state of public education in the DR, which faces many of the same problems rampant in the US’s poorest cities: overcrowded classrooms, poorly maintained facilities, and a high dropout rate, among other issues.
According to the press release I received, at this year’s Canóche, Robinson Canó would be announcing the Washington-based RC22 Scholarship Fund in addition to his other charitable works. In recognition of the educational access issues facing youth in his adopted backyard, Canó’s foundation has pledged to fund 22 partial scholarships (ranging from $500 to $2200, of course) to Washington residents seeking to further their education either at a college or trade school. Priority will be given to students who have experienced homelessness, have been or are in foster care, or have significant financial need, as well as students who show a strong commitment to community service. The application is open until July 31 and can be accessed through WashBoard, so please pass the information along to any deserving candidate you know.
While it’s certainly understandable that Canó would opt out of a gala event while serving a suspension, it’s a shame that a pall should be cast over his charitable contributions simply because Canó currently finds himself persona non grata in the eyes of Major League Baseball. Inadvertently but unfortunately, the people who get punished here are those who benefit most from Canó’s dedication to community service and his ability to leverage his public persona for donations. While we as a community might not have the firepower of the Alex Rodriguezes and Jay-Zs of the world, and while it won’t result in a signed Yasiel Puig jersey, every little bit helps. Just $1000 provides an entire class of kids with the supplies they need to learn for a whole year. If you would like to make a donation to the RC22 Foundation to help fund the work they’re doing both here and abroad, you can do that here or through the Foundation’s Facebook page. Canó might not be in the public eye right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep the spirit of giving going while he’s away.