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‘Incredibly rewarding:’ Brewers’ Braun, Moustakas, Yelich inspired by offseason ‘California Strong’ effort

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MILWAUKEE -- The offseason was unique in many ways for the Milwaukee Brewers. For some, it was time to bond not only with each other, but with a community in need.

Every offseason is different for different players. In this case, Christian Yelich was dealing with being the MVP. But he, Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas -- along with others -- were dealing with something a little more important to people in California.

Mike Moustakas

"What happened this offseason in California, in Malibu, it kind of put a lot of things in perspective," said Mike Moustakas, Brewers second baseman.

As the 2018 season wrapped up, disasters both natural and man-made impacted California -- deadly wildfires and a mass shooting:

  • Borderline Bar and Grill Shooting in Thousand Oaks: 12 lives lost on Nov. 7, 2018.

  • Camp Fire (Northern California): 150,000 acres; 12,500 homes lost; 81 people killed; started on Nov. 8, 2018.

  • Woolsey Fire (Southern California): 98,000 acres; nearly 600 homes lost; 3 people killed; started on Nov. 8, 2018.

Christian Yelich

"It was really bad out there for a while," said Christian Yelich, Brewers outfielder.

"Actually living through it and knowing so many people that were directly affected by it, directly affected by it ourselves, just hit us so hard," said Ryan Braun, Brewers outfielder.

Braun, like Yelich and Moustakas, is from Southern California and lives there in the offseason.

"Obviously, we were inspired and motivated to start the campaign by the shooting in Thousand Oaks and the fires in both Northern and Southern California," said Braun.

Ryan Braun

"You know, a lot of people really needed help, so we were fortunate enough to have a platform that you can use for good, and we were able to do that. We didn't know how or what we were going to do, and it ended up becoming 'California Strong,'" said Yelich.

A "California Strong" celebrity softball game was quickly organized to raise money to help those impacted by these tragedies.

"We wanted to do our part. We wanted to be able to contribute, be able to help people get their lives back together, get back on their feet and ultimately get back to thriving. So, incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience and there's no better feeling than being able to positively impact peoples lives like that," said Braun.

"The support was amazing, that we received. It was great. It was really rewarding just to help out the families and to see some people smiling for a little while after losing everything, going through so many hard times," said Yelich.

Braun said checks were distributed to people in Northern California during spring training.

"Inevitably, other things will happen. There's always going to be fires and mudslides and natural disasters, earthquakes, things that can come up, and I think there's a lag time between when the event happens and when insurance is able to come and get involved, and there's other people who, unfortunately, don't even have access to insurance. So hopefully we can be there to provide support to as many people as possible in the event that future things inevitably occur," said Braun.

CLICK HERE to learn much more about the "California Strong" effort.

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