By Amy McCullough
Columbus Enquirer Bureau
COLUMBUS - Charity groups raising cash for at-risk kids now have a chance to cash in on Cincinnati Reds fans' devotion to their team.
A bill moving through the Ohio House would allow fans to buy license plates with the Reds logo. Money from the sales would go to various charity programs, including one that sponsors a baseball team for at-risk youth.
The idea surfaced about 18 months ago, after a fan contacted Zach Bonkowski, events coordinator for the Cincinnati Reds, saying he noticed Cleveland fans had their teams' logo on their plates. "He asked why we didn't have it, and I said, 'Why don't we?' " Bonkowski said.
The Cleveland Browns and Cavaliers began offering team license plates in 1999 and the Indians in 2000. Bonkowski contacted Rep. Catherine Barrett, D-Cincinnati, who agreed to sponsor the legislation.
Plates with the Reds logo would cost an additional $45 plus tax. Still being worked out in committee is how much of that additional fee would go to a charity.
If the bill passes, the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund can allocate money to any local charity. Charley Frank, executive director of the fund, hopes the license plates raise as much as $150,000 and plans to spend much of it teaching ethics and values to poor and at-risk kids ages 8-11.
"Our priorities are to focus on youth in Greater Cincinnati ... and to create community partnerships that are tied to the game of baseball," he said.
A portion of the proceeds, for example, will go to the Reds Rookie Success League, which debuted last summer.
About 100 volunteers, including former Reds MVP George Foster, serve as coaches for children. Foster acts as the league's commissioner. The volunteers try to incorporate life lessons as they teach kids baseball.
Each child receives a free medical assessment and treatment, which "they normally might not be able to afford," Frank said.
Barrett said she hopes the legislation will help families, especially because people can make a difference in the community by supporting their favorite team.
Tasers have fans, doubters
Cicada noise will provide extra trills
Lawsuit against Cinergy expands
Busken cupcake on eBay
Photo gallery: Images of Good Friday
IN THE TRISTATE
Ex-officer charged in wife's death
McAuley puts on 'Oliver!' with flair
Fairfield sues to close Capri Motel
TV show: Blacks ticketed more
Polar bear dies at zoo
DeWine, Dowlin spent $669,609 in battle
Alleged assault caught on tape
Hamilton plans for future roads
Concerns over trees delaying repair
New homes stir debate
Tenant brings hope
Excess zinc discharge may bring $56,000 fine
Recount to Niehaus in Senate primary
License plates could feature Reds logo
Trustee urged to resign
Public safety briefs
Good Things Happening
Impact of film may lie in faith
Joseph Hetzer, plant executive
Some pot can be evidence, some not
No funding for church cause
Budget talks hit a wall in Frankfort
Fletcher aide gets support of GOP
Historic pipe organ back for Easter
Prom-goers get 'don't' list