2021 Foundation Spotlight: Vi Ripken

vi ripkenCelebrating our 20th anniversary gives us the opportunity to honor the legacy of the Foundation’s namesake, Cal Ripken, Sr, and the incredible work and commitment of so many special people who have contributed to the success of the Foundation over the years. In this profile, we would like to spotlight Vi Ripken. As the founding chairwoman of the Foundation, Vi endorsed and supported the Foundation’s mission of helping at-risk youth in local communities across the country.   

Vi and Cal, Sr.’s commitment to helping others started locally at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County (BGCHC) in Aberdeen, MD. A proven advocate for the Club and a steadfast Board member for over 30 years, she has solidified the Ripken legacy of showing up for their community. Friend, former BGCHC executive director, and current vice president of resource development for the Ripken Foundation, Randy Acosta notes, “In the off seasons, Vi, Cal, Sr., Billy, and Cal would spend time at the Club mentoring at-risk youth.” He continues, “Vi and Cal, Sr. set the example early on for their family, and as a result transformed the lives of thousands of young children in Harford County and beyond.”

Today, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation symbolizes that lifetime commitment to community and mentoring. Steve Salem, president and CEO of the Ripken Foundation, recalled his first Ripken Foundation Board meeting with Vi in 2006, “She was a feisty leader who had the respect of everyone in the room because of what she had accomplished in her lifetime.” Long-time friend and fellow founding Ripken Foundation Board member, Roger Ralph added, “Vi is a real role model to her kids, Elly, Fred, Cal, and Billy. She is one of the most authentic people you will ever meet and straight forward people you will ever meet. One can’t help but like her.” 

Over the last 20 years, the Foundation has dedicated its programs and parks to many important donors and friends. In 2016, we opened Vi Ripken Field adjacent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County in Aberdeen which honored Vi and Cal, Sr.’s years of dedication to the community. Today, our Youth Development Park initiative gives underserved kids a place to participate in afterschool youth programs that teach them critical life skills in a clean, safe environment. And in 2021, we will be cutting the ribbon on our 100th park for the at-risk youth in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore City. 

Vi Ripken set the tone for success for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation 20 years ago by creating a sense of purpose and obligation to meet the needs of at-risk youth. “Vi Ripken is a dedicated, loyal, and passionate advocate for children. She is a firm believer in always showing up and doing the job that needs to be done,” concludes Acosta. 

Thanks to Vi and many other Foundation supporters, today, the Ripken Foundation impacts over 1.2 million kids in 42 states and Washington, D.C. In addition, we have 99 completed Youth Development Parks in 26 states, 19 of which are Adaptive fields for children with special needs. And, we have 66 fully operational mobile STEM Centers in 13 states. To learn more about the Ripken Foundation visit www.ripkenfoundation.org.