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Vitae Essay Contest

A national women’s advocacy group demanded Friday that the Royals end their agreement with an anti-abortion organization that advertises on the team’s radio broadcasts and at games.

The advocacy group, UltraViolet, condemned the Royals’ relationship with the Vitae Foundation, a nonprofit that UltraViolet said disseminates misleading information to pregnant women.

“Make no mistake: This partnership is part of a deceptive anti-choice agenda, and the Kansas City Royals are not only condoning it, but willingly participating and amplifying it,” Karin Roland, chief campaigns officer at UltraViolet, said Friday in news release.

On Tuesday, UltraViolet announced it planned to fly a plane with a banner reading "ROYALS FANS DESERVE TRUTH–DROP VITAE" around Kauffman Stadium at 4 p.m. The Royals play the Houston Astros at 7:15 p.m.

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The Vitae Foundation encourages women to visit pregnancy help centers, which counsel pregnant women, as an alternative to abortion. According the organization’s website, it is dedicated to “educating the public about the value and sanctity of human life; and restoring the value of life as a core belief in the American culture.”

Mike Swanson, Royals vice president for communications and broadcasting, said the Vitae Foundation has had a relationship with the Royals since the beginning of the 2016 season.

“It is primarily a radio advertisement buy. Vitae has similar agreements with other sports properties and media outlets,” Swanson said. “Separate from the ad campaign and as a general manner of practice, the club takes no official position on culturally-sensitive issues.”

In addition to the radio advertisement, the Vitae Foundation sponsorship includes an announcement during the half-hour before games, Swanson said. The foundation logo is shown on the Crown Vision scoreboard along with other advertising announcements.

In the release, Roland said the foundation “lies and manipulates the public by spreading extreme, deceptive anti-choice propaganda not only to those seeking reproductive health care options, but also to young children.”

A petition encouraging the Royals to cut ties with the foundation is on UltraViolet’s website.

In a Friday statement, the Vitae Foundation lauded its support of the pregnancy centers.

“If a woman in a difficult pregnancy makes the courageous decision to bring her child into the world, Vitae believes she should have meaningful support in making that decision,” the statement read.

UltraViolet objected to an essay contest sponsored by the Vitae Foundation and affiliated with the Royals. The “Champions for Life” contest encouraged seventh-graders to submit essays “about what it means to be a Champion for Life.” The prompt continued: “How can we make abortion unthinkable?”

The first-place winner of the contest will get four dugout suite tickets to a Royals game against the Boston Red Sox on June 20. Each participant in the contest (limited to 110) will get four tickets.

The contest, which closed May 1, was open only to the 33 Catholic grade schools within the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, according to a flyer about the contest.

A Linn High School 12th grader and a St. Joseph Catholic School, Westphalia, 8th grader are this year’s grand prize winners in Vitae Foundation’s Contest on Life Issues. Shelby Voss, Linn, a 12th grader at Linn High School, and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Plassmeyer of Westphalia, an 8th grader at St. Joseph Catholic School claimed the top grand prizes. Each threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the start of the July 27 St. Louis Cardinals game. The contest was a component of Osage County Night at the Ballpark.

Vitae’s essay contest engaged the younger residents of Osage County in the discussion of life issues. Voss’s essay was titled:“It Takes a Village,” and focused on drug addiction, while Plassmeyer’s was titled: “From an Aborted Baby’s Point of View.” The essay contest was made possible through a generous grant from the Alphonse J. Schwartze Foundation, which is also funding a radio ad campaign for Vitae on the St. Louis Cardinals Radio Network, the largest in Major League Baseball, during the 2017 season.

“As the contest deadline approached, we were pleased with the initial tally, and thought ‘nice job, Osage County!’ Then a couple more came in, and then a dozen and then a whole class! The final result totaled 129 submissions to the essay contest this year. That was 32 more essays than last year! The grant allowed us to give four tickets to each contest participant. The students wrote with passion and exercised critical thinking. I can only image how proud the students’ parents and teachers must be. Great job to all!” Vitae Senior Market Director Stacey Kromer stated. To read the winning essays, go to www.vitaefoundation.com/blog.

The grand prize winners and each class winner received four box-seat tickets. All other contest entrants received four seats in the sections reserved for the Osage County Night attendees. Additional winners included:

► Hannah Plassmeyer, Grade 12, Osage County R-III, Fatima

► Rylie Kever, Grade 11, Helias Catholic High School

► Alison Kever, Grade 10, Helias Catholic High School

► Alese Stratman, Grade 9, Osage County R-III, Fatima

► Natalie Samson, Grade 8, Osage County R-III, Fatima

► Jake Boyce, Grade 8, Immaculate Conception, Loose Creek

► Elizabeth Brandt, Grade 8, St. George, Linn

► Ryan Bexten, Grade 8, Sacred Heart, Freeburg

The All-Star Staff Contest was expanded this year to include a first pitch opportunity, batting practice, personal photo in the Cardinals dugout, a VIP tour of Busch Stadium, passes to the Cardinals Hall of Fame along with All-Star Suite tickets. Joanna Baughman, a 9th grade teacher at Fatima, and Lisa Grellner, a St. George Linn 8th grade teacher, had the highest student participation by percentage.

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