By Sue Kiesewetter
Carl Lindner Jr. just can't help himself.
The Reds owner set out to give away a few Reds tickets to thank some people who helped him when he was ill.
But the list kept growing, and Lindner kept on giving.
Pretty soon, he'd given ticket vouchers to school children, teachers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, nurses, police officers, firefighters....
And by the time he's done, probably in the next week or so, more than 450,000 people across Greater Cincinnati will have received certificates that can be redeemed for two tickets each to a Reds game.
Each voucher comes with a message from Lindner of appreciation, encouragement or acknowledgement.
Those close to the philanthropist say the tickets are a gift from the heart, motivated by the care Lindner received as a patient at Christ Hospital five years ago.
"I was lying in the hospital and they were treating me so well,'' Lindner said Friday.
At first, only nurses and public-safety workers received the ticket vouchers.
But Lindner was having too much fun.
"I'm grateful for what has been given to me,'' he said. "I felt I got more by giving than when I was the receiver."
The tickets don't come from the Reds, or from any of Lindners' businesses. The Lindner family pays for all the tickets redeemed.
Reaction has been a mix of surprise and gratitude.
For many of the children, it is the only chance they will have to see a Reds game.
Newport Middle School Principal Chuck Faust told Lindner in a letter that budget constraints prevented the school from buying discounted tickets this year and treating the students to a game.
"This comes as a particularly nice surprise," Faust wrote.
Lindner says he cherishes most the letters he gets from the kids.
"(They're) my paycheck," he said. "The main one."
Like the letter he received from William Legg, a student at St. Henry School in Northern Kentucky.
"I will study more and go to a good school, thanks to you,'' Legg wrote.
"I enjoy school but I could study more than I do."
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