Chris Sale’s Laces of Love Drive Results In More Than 500 Shoes, $2,000 In Donations
FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the second-consecutive year, former FGCU baseball standout and current Chicago White Sox staff ace Chris Sale and his wife, Brianne, teamed up with local charity Laces of Love to make a profound difference in the Southwest Florida community.
At a home FGCU basketball doubleheader earlier this year, Eagles' fans donated $2,250 and 502 pairs of new shoes to children in need – with donations continuing well into February. Between the inaugural 2015 event with the Sales and the 2016 drive, Laces of Love has received $4,250 in donations and more than 1,350 pairs of new shoes from Green and Blue supporters.
"I can't thank the FGCU and local community enough for helping us with this absolutely great cause," commented Brianne Sale, who also attended FGCU and has fulfilled her course requirements for graduation. "The outpouring of support we've received has truly been a blessing, and Chris and I are so fortunate to be able to help make a difference in children's lives in Southwest Florida. It wouldn't be possible without Jeanne's (Nealon, Laces of Love President and Co-Founder) passion, and I'd also like to thank her for all her hard work."
All proceeds and shoes collected went directly to low income and disadvantaged children in Lee and Collier counties. In 2015 alone, 10,000 children in Lee and Collier public schools received a new pair of shoes from Laces of Love, bringing the total to almost 85,000 new shoes distributed to those in need since the charity's inception in 2005. Laces of Love also provides shoes to children who want to participate in sports – i.e. soccer cleats, volleyball shoes, football cleats, basketball shoes – but would otherwise be unable without the appropriate footwear.
Sale, who led the American League in strikeouts last year en route to a 4th-straight All-Star selection, was in attendance with Brianne and son Rylan as the family lives in the area in the offseason and are great supporters of FGCU.
"We are so fortunate to have Chris and Brianne support our mission to help needy kids," remarked Nealon. "The outpouring of support we've received from the local community and FGCU has been so heartwarming. I can't thank everyone enough for their generosity – it really does make such a difference in children's lives!"
Laces of Love relies solely on a volunteer staff and donations, and works directly with school nurses, teachers and staff to help identify children in need and ensure they receive the proper-sized footwear. While the drive for this year with the Sales is complete, Laces of Love is always accepting new shoes, with boys and girls sizes 1-8 being the most commonly needed. For more information, visit www.lacesoflove.org or call 239-591-1172.
Sale is one of only six players in Major League Baseball history to play in the big leagues the same year he was drafted after being selected 13th overall following his junior season at FGCU in 2010. This past summer, Sale became the second-fastest starter in MLB history to reach the 1,000-strikeout milestone. Since moving to the White Sox starting rotation in 2012, Sale – one of the best, if not the best, left-handed pitcher in baseball – has compiled a 53-37 record and has never had a season ERA over 3.41 en route to finishing 6th in the Cy Young voting in 2012, 5th in 2013 and 3rd in 2014.
The southpaw broke a 107-year-old White Sox record this past season by striking out 274 batters, besting the previous mark of 269. Sale earned the victory in the 2013 All-Star Game after pitching two perfect innings in a 3-0 AL win. While at FGCU, Sale was named the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year in 2010 after posting a perfect 11-0 record with a 2.01 ERA over 17 games. In 103 innings during the 2010 campaign, Sale struck out a national-best 146 batters while walking only 14.
In its 9th year as a Division-I member, FGCU has won a combined 51 conference regular season and tournament titles as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference and Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association. In just its 5th year of D-I postseason eligibility, FGCU has made 23 total NCAA Championship appearances, and seven programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sports. In 2014-15, FGCU finished 9th in the Division I-AAA Learfield Sports Director Cup final standings, ahead of several prominent Big East, Missouri Valley and Atlantic 10 Conference members.
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FGCU Athletics sponsors events throughout the year to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics' charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visitwww.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.