When you think of Hawaii, most people would normally think of clear blue ocean waters, picturesque views… a tropical paradise. But St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong simply calls the islands home. The Hilo, Hawaii native was drafted by the Cardinals in 2011, the twenty second pick in the first round. He debuted with St. Louis on August 16, 2013. And while the 2019 Rawlings Gold Glove winner certainly dazzles everyone on the field, the work he and his wife, Alissa, do for their communities off the field is equally impressive.
Four times a year during the regular baseball season you can find Kolten hosting Kolten’s Krew prior to the games beginning. This is part of a Cardinals ticket program that brings young kids battling cancer to the game where they can meet Kolten and get a special experience while they fight for their lives.
Cancer is a disease that hit Wong and his family close to home after it took his mother’s life in 2013. Kolten’s mother, Keala, was able to see her son play in the World Series in 2013 but sadly passed away shortly after. It was an event that rocked him, Wong said. He pays tribute to her every day with an intricate arm tattoo.
After she passed he joined up with Jason Motte’s Strike Out Cancer charity. Kolten co-hosts the annual St. Louis Cornhole Challenge fundraiser. He also has a KCancer shirt that supports the Jason Motte Foundation and Cardinals Care.
Outside of baseball, Kolten is passionate about helping his islands and the communities and culture within them. In 2018 he and his wife Alissa raised more than $40,000 in thirty six hours for Hilo, Hawaii after a series of natural disasters left the area devastated and in dire need of help. All the money raised was donated to local non-profits in affected areas. The Cardinals also came together to help Hilo at that time by selling $15 tickets to help those impacted by the Kilauea volcano eruptions.
Wong has voiced his support for the We Are Mauna Kea movement. This movement seeks to prevent the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s largest mountain that is extremely sacred to Native Hawaiians. The TMT would cover a huge portion of the peak of Mauna Kea. The TMT was originally supposed to be built in 2015, however protestors prevented it from being built.
Now, in 2020, the fight against the desecration of Mauna Kea continues. Wong has been outspoken in his support for the protestors. His family on the Big Island has also joined the protests. Many Native Hawaiians view Mauna Kea as the heartbeat of the islands, the reason they believe they are on this earth. For him and others with the same beliefs, the preservation is about the connection to the world and life itself. He has voiced his support by donning colorful gear during the 2019 Players Weekend, as well as being vocal on social media.
Excelling both on and off the field in his pursuits to better his communities, Kolten Wong is a quintessential Cardinal. He represents the birds on the bat in an exemplary way that should be celebrated. With time left on his contract with Saint Louis there is no doubt that he will continue to better the game of baseball, the city of St. Louis, and his communities back in Hawaii.
Please find below links to the charities that were mentioned in this article
Jason Motte Foundation
2020 Cornhole Challenge
Kolten’s K Cancer shirt