CINCINNATI -- During an on-field ceremony on Friday to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day, the Reds honored 10-year-old Raeya Ponugoti for being the winner of the 2012 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest.
Ponugoti, a fifth-grade student from Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, wrote an essay about dealing with bullying while staying true to her passion for dance. It beat out over 6,500 entrants. Earlier in the day, she and her classmates met with MLB educational programming consultant and Sharon Robinson to learn more about her father Jackie Robinson's story.
The "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" program was developed by MLB, Sharon Robinson and Scholastic, with the purpose of helping students in grades four through nine deal with barriers and challenges in their lives. Jackie Robinson's achievement of breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947 serves as the basis for the program. The contest's 2011 winner, Meggie Zahneis, is currently a youth correspondent for MLB.com.
Sharon Robinson, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan and Reds third baseman Scott Rolen -- an Indiana native -- took part in the on-field ceremony. Also honored was Tony White, president of All Gone Pest Control, for being the 2012 most valuable diverse business partner award winner.