Eager to get involved in the community around their spring training home, the First Ladies, a group of wives and girlfriends of Nationals players, is participating in the
Alzheimer’s Association’s annual Memory Walk this spring.
In 2009, Shari Langerhans, wife of then-National Ryan Langerhans, asked the First Ladies to participate. This year, the women decided to get involved again.
“We would love to make it a yearly Spring Training tradition to participate in the Walk,” said Ashley Balester, wife of Nationals pitcher Collin Balester.
“It’s fun to get together with the girls to plan something and do something good for local organizations. It gives you a good feeling to know you are helping out others.”
This year’s participants include Jessica Burnett (wife of Sean Burnett), Stephanie Chico (wife of Matt Chico), Chelsey Desmond (wife of Ian Desmond), Mandy Jellish (girlfriend of Jordan Zimmermann), Jordana Lenz (girlfriend of Nyjer Morgan), Loren Maxwell (wife of Justin Maxwell), Emily Mock (wife of Garrett Mock), Jodi Orr (wife of Pete Orr), Erin Smith (girlfriend of JD Martin) and Maryanne Garry (girlfriend of John Lannan) -- with more joining the team almost every day.
As participants in the annual walk, the First Ladies are raising money for Alzheimer’s research.
“I can only imagine what it is like to have a loved one afflicted with the disease. To me, it almost seems worse than other physical diseases in that the characteristics of the person you know and love are slowly diminishing until you no longer know them,” Balester said.
Fans that want to get involved can donate on the First Ladies team page or even join them for the walk which will take place at Space Coast Stadium on March 6th, which is also Opening Day.
“I call Melbourne home for 2 months, and it only seems right to want to get involved with local events here, just like we do when in DC,” Balester continued.
In Washington, the First Ladies support community relations programs including the Thanksgiving in June Food Drive, the Christmas in July Toy Drive, and the annual Blood Drive, as well as their signature Back to School Drive.