The first player in Major League Baseball history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season is getting set to launch some baseballs in Abbotsford.
Former American League most valuable player Jose Canseco hits the Fraser Valley on Saturday, and it’s all to help raise awareness on opiate addiction and sexual abuse.
The Strike Out Against Opiate Addiction fundraiser runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Abbotsford Exhibition Park.
Langley resident Andy Bhatti, a former heroin addict and sexual abuse victim turned drug and alcohol interventionist, said it’s crucial that people learn just how dangerous opiates can be.
“So many survivors of sexual abuse get addicted to opiates to help them block out their feelings,” he said. “Doctors put people on all these different medications and they don’t seem to realize how hard it is to come off of opiates. If you are addicted to this stuff you need to get help – there are so many services both free and private that can help you.”
For the last decade, Bhatti has concentrated his energy on bringing awareness to childhood sexual abuse and helping out youth.
He received the Courage to Come Back award in the addiction category for 2015, and the event in Abbotsford is one of several he puts together every year.
Saturday’s event includes a tournament featuring some of the top baseball players in the province with games running all day long. Canseco will be signing autographs from noon to 2 p.m., after which he will run a hitting clinic and participate in a home run derby against the top five home run hitters at the tournament.
Former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych will be a coach, former UFC fighter Jason Day will play in the tournament, and Canseco’s wife, model Leila Knight, is also expected to be in attendance. The event is free, with donations coming from autographs and pictures with the stars, as well as a silent auction featuring memorabilia and donated items from local businesses.
Three guest speakers will also talk about addiction and sexual abuse, with information booths and refreshments available all day long.
“Our goal is to raise awareness,” Bhatti said. Proceeds will go to Bhatti’s charity, Survivors Supporting Survivors, along with the Together We Can treatment centre in Vancouver.
Bhatti said both accept people from Abbotsford “so we’re hoping to get a chance to help out a lot of people with this event.”
For more information on the event, visit andybhatti.com/bc-super-draft-with-jose-canseco.