Astros take time to support kids and canines at Houston fundraiser

Before facing the Cleveland Indians this weekend at Minute Maid Park, Astros pitchers Lance McCullers Jr. and Cy Young Award-winner Dallas Keuchel, along with second baseman and 2017 American League MVP Jose Altuve, took time out from their busy schedules to host the second annual Team Up for Kids and K9s fundraiser at Upper Kirby retailer, Tootsies.

More than 400 attendees including Astros teammates Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Gerrit Cole, Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh, and Joe Smith, plus Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio and Houston Texans center Greg Mancz, attended the fun-filled soiree.

The athletes mingled with the crowd throughout the night, even posing for selfies with guests. But the scene stealers of the evening were the nearly dozen pups up for adoption from BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions.

As though the event wasn’t already a home run, partygoers enjoyed bites, from chicken tenders by PDQ to chocolate chip cookies by Tiny Boxwoods, and free-flowing sips.

Funds from the sale of several Astros pieces by artist Jason Skeldon and from live and silent auctions, including a dinner with Lance McCullers Jr., Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, and Dallas Keuchel at B&B Butchers that sold three times for a total of $60,000, helped contribute to the more than $360,000 raised.

Proceeds will be divided between three organizations: the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, which invests time and resources into the promotion of pet adoptions, raising awareness for shelters and programs, and continuing the journey to a no-kill world; the José Altuve Foundation with funds designated to benefit The Sunshine Kids Foundation, a nonprofit that provides free programs and events for children who are receiving cancer treatments in hospitals across the United States and North America; and the Dallas Keuchel Foundation, with funds benefiting The Sunshine Kids Foundation and various animal charities.

“I was born and raised in Florida, but my wife and I live here now … I feel like this is my home. This is where I live and where I’ve decided to spend all my time. We owe a lot to the Houston community for the way they’ve embraced us. I think there’s no better way to give back than for the athletes in Houston to give some of their time and resources to worthy causes,” McCullers told reporters at the start of the event.

Enjoying the evening were event emcee Sarah Pepper, Hallie Vanderhider, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and his wife, Gwen Emmett, Alicia Smith, Jo and Jim Furr, Tena Faust, Tama Lundquist, Alyson Footer, Julia Morales, Joanna and Brad Marks, DeeDee and Wallis Marsh, Melissa Juneau, Hannah McNair, Leticia and Steve Trauber, Bobbie Nau, Gaye Lynn and Stuart Zarrow, Fady Armanious, Bill Baldwin, Brittaney Wilmore, Jennifer Roosth, Kim Padgett, and Sonia Soto.