Skip to Main Content

 View All News

Release Date: July 1,2021

Ken Babby, Owner and CEO, Akron RubberDucks to be recognized by The Salvation Army with Community Medal Award November 4, 2021

Akron, OH, June 30, 2021 ––Ken Babby, one of the youngest multi-franchise owners in professional sports, will be recognized by The Salvation Army at its seventeenth annual Community Medal Award and Red Kettle Kickoff event Thursday, November 4 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at St. George Fellowship Hall, 3204 Ridgewood Road, Fairlawn. 

“The Salvation Army’s Community Medal Award is presented to individuals and organizations who make a significant ongoing impact in the Greater Akron community through professional and volunteer work,” explains Major Steven Stoops, Area Coordinator and Corps Officer for The Salvation Army in Summit County, “and Ken’s actions since he acquired the Akron Aeros in 2012 have been brilliant.  His mission is to provide affordable family fun at Canal Park and he’s hit it out of the park on that score since he purchased the franchise.  His Akron RubberDucks create happy memories, bring people downtown and provide excellent Double-A baseball fun for the entire region.” 

Babby’s leadership and private investment of over $8 million has propelled Canal Park to be the centerpiece of downtown Akron and the surrounding community. The nationally recognized team brings affordable and exciting family entertainment to the Rubber City, boosting the area’s economy in significant ways.

Babby’s two-fold mission is to create a memorable, unique, affordable and enjoyable fan experience and maximize the opportunity to create change in the community through charitable, wellness and education initiatives.  He serves on numerous boards in Northeast Ohio including The United Way of Summit and Medina County. 

Additional examples of Babby’s impact on the region include bringing baseball fans from all over the country to the city of Akron with such prominent events as the Eastern League Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, as well as an Eastern League championship. The Akron RubberDucks attracted an average of 340,000 visitors per season to Canal Park over the 2014-2019 seasons.

Babby, a native of Potomac, Maryland, is the founder of Fast Forward Sports Group, owning the Akron RubberDucks (AA) and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (AAA) minor league baseball teams.

The RubberDucks have received numerous franchise awards including, Minor League Baseball’s prestigious Larry MacPhail Award in 2015 as the top promotional team for creative and imaginative ballpark as well as being nominated for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, which honors Minor League Baseball’s “most complete franchise.”

Babby was named an Entrepreneur of the Year® 2017 in the Northeast Ohio region, earned Sports Business Journal’s 2016 “Forty Under 40” list and was named to Crain’s Cleveland Business’ “Forty Under 40” award in 2015.

The Salvation Army’s Community Medal luncheon is the formal launch of 2021 Red Kettle Campaign.  Along with honoring Ken Babby, the event will herald the start of the holiday season with volunteer bell ringers at kettle locations from November 6 through Christmas Eve at venues throughout the county. 

“The luncheon is the official start to the holiday bell-ringing season, and after the challenging year we had at the kettles in 2020 and the significant increase in need,” said Major Stoops, “a strong start is needed to support the life-changing programs we provide to those in need.”

Corporate sponsorships are available with special benefits including a private reception with Babby at the Duck Club at Canal Park during the season.  The Salvation Army invites the community to the Red Kettle Kick-Off, Thursday, November 4 at noon to 1:30 p.m. at St. George Fellowship Hall, 3204 Ridgewood Road, Fairlawn.  Sponsorships start at $1,000, and individual luncheon seats are $75.  You can make your reservation online at or by calling 330-434-7110 before October 30. 

Online event registration will open October 1 at For sponsorship support information, call Marian Calvin, Director of Development, at 330-434-7110 or 330-283-3532.

Donations are always needed to help cover the demand for service during the extended COVID-19 era.  To make a donation to assist The Salvation Army of Summit County serve families during this unprecedented time, call 330-958-3751 or visit