[/av_textblock] [av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” custom_class=”] Monday, October 20, 2003
PIGEON FORGE, TN – Prior to Game 3 of the 2003 World Series between the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees, the American Eagle Foundation’s trained celebrity Bald Eagle, Challenger, will grace the skies over Pro-Player stadium during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. It will be the fifth year that the majestic bird has been featured in a pre-game fly-over at Major League Baseball’s premier championship contest.
“We’re honored to present our nation’s living symbol of Freedom at such a prestigious sporting event,” said Al Cecere, American Eagle Foundation president. “Challenger performed at his very first World Series at Pro-Player Stadium in 1997, when the Marlins prevailed over the Cleveland Indians. So we’re excited to be invited back.”
Challenger, a 15 year-old non-releasable male, is the first bald eagle in U.S. history trained to free-fly during the presentation of the national anthem at major league sports stadiums and other high-profile public events. The bird was blown from a wild nest as a baby in a storm and hand-raised by the humans who rescued him. Consequently, he was never able to survive in nature and is very comfortable around people.
“Challenger has a longstanding and stellar reputation for spectacular and soul-stirring Anthem flights,” said Cecere. “He plays an important role in elevating patriotism and preserving a precious national treasure that America’s sports fans care deeply about.”
Since 1993, this special eagle ambassador has logged in hundreds of flights at both outdoor and indoor auditoriums and arenas. His appearances have substantially increased public awareness about the Bald Eagle’s plight, and have often payed tribute to the U.S.A.’s freedoms, armed forces and veterans.
The bird iscared for and trained under educational government permits by the eagle preservation group (www.eagles.org),headquartered at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The American Eagle Foundation is a non-profit public charity dedicated to the cause of restoring and protecting Bald Eagles to the U.S.A.’s lands, waterways and skies. The organization has a vision of establishing a multi-million dollar “American Eagle Fund’ endowment to help keep America’s eagles flying strong and free for the future. Various major league baseball and football teams donate to the cause when Challenger appears at their games. George Steinbrenner and the Yankees have been generous supporters.
“Challenger’s a real pro and is in great shape for Tuesday’s game,” said Cecere. “His fifth World Series fly-in should stir the hearts and souls of baseball fans around the world.