Cal Ripken Jr. is looking to set another milestone this summer - this time in the reading field.
The Orioles third-baseman kicked off Friday the annual "Reading, Runs & Ripken" fund-raiser to benefit the Baltimore Reads literacy organization, a campaign that has raised more than $526,000 for child and adult reading activities over the past eight years.
This year, organizers are hoping to push that total over the $600,000 mark, with donors earning premiums ranging from bookmarks to lunch at the Camden Club, depending on their contribution level.
Ripken and his wife, Kelly, have been involved with the Ripken Learning Center, the organization's adult literacy arm, since 1991.
Officials at Baltimore Reads say the Orioles star has long pushed children's literacy through the National Education Association's Read Across America campaign.
The Reading, Runs & Ripken campaign originally based pledges on the number of home runs hit by Ripken. In recent years, the contributions were pegged to RBIs. This year, organizers are seeking direct contributions ranging from $25 ("Ironman Fan") to $1,000 ("Hero").
Sponsors for this year's campaign include Amerix Corp., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Creative Forms & Graphics, HTS, BenefitMall.com (formerly the Mather Cos.) and SunTrust Bank.
Contributions from the campaign will go to Baltimore Reads programs.
The private, nonprofit organization's activities include adult literacy activities; in-school, after-school and summer reading programs; and a book bank providing books to low-income families.