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Inspired by his father, Schwarber gives back to neighborhood heroes

Kyle Schwarber visits a local fire department. | Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times

Kyle Schwarber is giving back to where he came from.

As the son of a police chief and nurse, Schwarber has always been inspired by servicemen and women and their devotion to duty. That’s mainly why he launched “Neighborhood Heroes” in May.

The campaign’s sole purpose is to recognize first responders and show appreciation for their courage and heroism.

Schwarber’s father, Greg, was a police chief in Middletown, Ohio for more than 30 years. The Cubs outfielder remembers his father picking him up from school and taking him to the police station or to a crime scene.

Greg had a lot of influence on Kyle growing up and on his baseball career. Kyle said the two would play catch in their backyard and his dad would drive him to a baseball diamond to practice batting.

At one point, Schwarber wanted to follow in his father’s public service footsteps.

“I had an obsession with the military in high school. I knew it was going to be … [either I] play baseball in college, or go to the military,” Schwarber said.

Schwarber added that he learned accountability from his father, and said his father’s lessons hold true to baseball.

“He was the chief, so he was the leader of his department. So he had to be a good leader,” Schwarber said. “For him to be a good leader, he was accountable and for him, I believe that’s a really good quality to have. Being accountable, and being able to hold yourself and others, too.”

On Wednesday, Schwarber visited Chicago Fire Department Engine 112, 3801 N. Damen Ave., as part of his “Neighborhood Heroes” campaign.

During the visit, Schwarber and his Dalmatian, Blu, toured the fire station and grilled out brats in the garage. He also surprised the station with a 65-inch television and PlayStation.

Schwarber said after the trip that he sees similarities between the public service and baseball teams.

“The thing that really appeals to me is that it’s such a team feel,” Schwarber said. “It’s all a team effort. You can’t do your job without the guy on your left or right — or woman. It’s the same thing for baseball. You can’t do your job without the guy in front of you or behind you or the guy beside you. It’s always a team effort. That’s why I have such an appreciation for these guys.”

This was Schwarber’s fourth activity of his campaign. He’s also hosted first responders at Wrigley Field for a Cubs game, toured District 19 with Lakeview police and brought treats to veterans at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

Schwarber is hosting an inaugural block party Sept. 10 at Revel Fulton Market. The event is basically a backyard barbecue and will have premium grilled meat, lawn games and live music.