PITTSBURGH -- A fantasy football player since his days in Atlanta's Minor League system, Adam Wainwright is now bringing the game to the Major League stage.
On Monday, Wainwright launched wainosworld.com to introduce people to his newest charity initiative, Waino's World of Fantasy Football. The idea is simple: Wainwright is recruiting fantasy football players to compete against one of four Cardinals. The entrance fee is $2,500 per person, with 100 percent of the donations being split between two preselected charities.
"Every single cent that we earn is going to help people," Wainwright said. "The people that give to this charity, I want them to know that their money is being well used. They may not get money back in return, but they are getting a great experience, and their money will go to impacting people's lives for years and years to come."
This idea of playing fantasy football for charity was one Wainwright first had about five years ago. And with the assistance of his brother, Trey, last offseason, the idea has evolved into an event. Wainwright, along with teammates David Freese, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig, will each be participating in one 12-team fantasy football league.
The other 44 spots will be filled from the outside. Those entering the league will be invited to Busch Stadium on Aug. 23 for a full day of events. After a catered brunch and tour of the ballpark, participants will mingle with the participating Cardinals and then be a part of a three-hour live draft, run by Real Time Fantasy Sports.
Everyone will then be invited to watch batting practice and that night's game, against the Braves, from a suite. At the end of the season, non-cash prizes will be awarded to the four league winners and the overall champion. A trip to Cancun and autographed paraphernalia are among the items to be given away.
"It's a pretty unique experience," he said. "It's not a fund-raiser where you write a check and then you're done with it and you go home. This is something that you'll be able to enjoy for months on end and interact with Cardinals players. All the trash talk and bragging rights that will go into a normal fantasy football league, that's what we're bringing, and we're raising a lot of great money for people who really need it."
Noting that he and his wife, Jenny, feel "led to give to basic needs," Wainwright chose Operation Food Search and Water Missions International as the two charities to support. Based in St. Louis, Operation Food Search collects/distributes food and also provides nutrition programs.
Water Missions International describes itself as "a nonprofit Christian engineering organization providing sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas." Last year the Wainwrights worked through the organization to provide a clean water system to serve an area of about 6,000 people in Uganda.
This upcoming offseason they plan to visit one of the towns aided by a water system to "take video of it so next year when we do this, we can show the impact we're having through fantasy football," he said.
Wainwright also has grander plans for this league. Once he feels comfortable with the logistics on the local level, he intends to bring the concept to the other 29 Major League teams. Other players would be recruited to participate, and the proceeds would be split 50-50 -- with half going to Water Missions International and the other half to a local charity of a team's choice.
"The players I've spoken to have said they'd be very interested in it," he said. "We may have to change the name of it. I'm not sure 'Waino's World' in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh would sit well. But besides the name, what I want people to know is that we are helping people. That is what this is all about. This is not about building someone's name. This is not about building a platform for anything other than just to help people."
For more information and/or to register, visit wainosworld.com.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.