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Pujols Golf Classic still a staple in St. Louis

Angels slugger's charity work ongoing despite his shift to West Coast

Pujols Golf Classic still a staple in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Deidre Pujols remembers the thought 16 1/2 years ago when her daughter, Isabella, was born.

She knew instantly that her daughter had been born with Down syndrome, and it was clear then that her life would never quite be the same.

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"I was thinking to myself, 'What in the world am I supposed to do on this journey?'" Deidre said. "Now, I reflect on all the things that have happened, not because of me, not even because of Albert, but because of Bella and the mission she put us on for life."

Deidre met Albert Pujols shortly after Isabella's birth, and the two married in 2000 before Pujols was promoted to St. Louis to begin his Major League career with the Cardinals. In 11 seasons with the Cards, Pujols hit 445 home runs, won three National League MVP Awards and became one of the best players in baseball.

After more than a decade in St. Louis, Pujols left to sign a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels following the 2011 season.

The Pujols' roots have remained in St. Louis, though, thanks to The Pujols Family Foundation, which the couple started in 2005 to promote awareness and raise funds for children living with Down syndrome and people in poverty in the Dominican Republic.

The Pujols Family Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic was what brought Deidre to the Meadowbrook Country Club in Ballwin, Mo., on Monday, back where it all began as players and celebrities joined together to golf.

"[The players] come out to support what has been at heart the whole time, which is supporting the people who have Down syndrome and celebrating who they are," Deidre said. "To see people come out and still be a part of it even though we're not playing here, to still know that they support the cause and what and who it's really all about, it's special."

After Pujols left for Los Angeles, the foundation partnered with Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday, who hosted the event for the third straight year on Monday.

"Really for me, I'm the pretty face," Holliday joked. "The foundation is going national. It's pretty much a well-oiled machine at this point. For me, it's coming here and signing autographs and the giveaways, and helping do some things. It's easy for me to be part of it and come out here."

Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Tony La Russa were in attendance on Monday morning along with several handfuls of other current Cardinals including All-Star Adam Wainwright, manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak. Comedian George Lopez was on hand to golf and act as the dinner emcee.

Not all in attendance, however, were ready to tee it up and join the action.

"I probably won't dabble in golf until I'm done," Holliday said. "I've never played and I think golf is one of those things that takes a lot of practice. I don't have time to practice yet. I'll have time when I'm done. I've tried. It's not as easy as it looks. I've hit a few balls, but like I said, today's not the day to start my golf career.

"I would take a few rips with a baseball bat. But the golf club, I think it would be embarrassing."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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