Major League Baseball, “People Magazine” and the Kansas City Royals announced Monday that John Lair, Pittsburg, is the Royals “All-Star” of the “All-Stars Among Us” campaign, which recognizes individuals who are serving their communities in extraordinary ways.

Major League Baseball, “People Magazine” and the Kansas City Royals announced Monday that John Lair, Pittsburg, is the Royals “All-Star” of the “All-Stars Among Us” campaign, which recognizes individuals who are serving their communities in extraordinary ways.

Out of the three “All-Star” finalists representing the Royals, Lair was chosen by fans across the nation for his community service through Special Olympics. He is New Hope Services program director and a volunteer Special Olympics coach who donates more than 600 hours of his time every year to the organization.

Lair started a Special Olympics team in Pittsburg in 2001 and has coached three World Champion Special Olympians. A past recipient of the Kansas Volunteer of the Year award, he was selected by the Kansas City Royals as a Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat honoree in 2007.

“They called me Monday morning and gave me the news, and I was pretty emotional when I heard,” Lair said. “I’m pretty humbled by all this. Anybody who knows me knows that I volunteer with Special Olympics because I love it, not because I want recognition.”

Lair will be among the 30 “All-Stars Among Us” winners, chosen from 90 finalists, to be honored at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game July 14 in St. Louis. President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, with pre-game ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, and MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

“I and a guest will be flown to St. Louis July 12, and my understanding is that I’ll be there through July 15,” Lair said. “I’ll have tickets for all the festivities surrounding the All-Star Game, and it should be really exciting.”

One “All-Star Among Us” will be featured in “People” the week of the All-Star Game. “It’s my understanding that when they have us all together in St. Louis, they’ll talk with us individually and select that person,” Lair said.

The game and surrounding events will be dedicated to raising funds and awareness for charitable initiatives and celebrating the importance of community service. The charity and community service initiatives, themed “Going Beyond,” will be the most extensive in Major League Baseball All-Star history. In addition, Major League Baseball is supporting President Obama’s call for community service through “United We Serve,” a program which encourages Americans to engage in sustained and meaningful community service. Interested persons may visit www.serve.gov to find service opportunities in their area.
Lair strongly believes in volunteer service.

“I’ve been reading the stories of the other ‘All-Stars Among Us’ nominees, and it’s amazing how much great volunteer work is being done across the United States,” he said. “If everybody would just find their niche and volunteer a few hours every week, this would be a better world.”