Boundless Optimist, Life Enthusiast
It is not easy to exude excitement, energy and passion simply through spoken word, and it is even more challenging to make a successful career doing so, but for Rex Hudler, this linguistic gift is second nature. For six years, Hudler has been one of the most spirited color commentators for the Kansas City Royals, and it is this same determination that has lead him to a life of community involvement.
Even a simple conversation is animated. With Rex, it started early on. He naturally has a gift for all things sports, and with his mother’s encouragement during high school, he decided to focus on baseball and football. His talent was recognized, and he was offered a scholarship to play football at Notre Dame. He was simultaneously sought after by the New York Yankees, and the Yankees won out, thus beginning a 21-year career in professional baseball. During this time, Hudler lived in every time zone and earned, as he would say, a “worldly degree” which helped him to transition smoothly into broadcast journalism with the Los Angeles Angels in 1988. He would continue for 11 years before his career hit a standstill.
Hudler’s focus shifted completely to his family. His wife, Jennifer, a woman he describes as the perfect gift for him, and their four children enjoyed this time where he coached Little League and enjoyed everyday tasks. But all the while he prayed, asking God to find him a job, in broadcasting, which wassomething Hudler could not get out of his heart. In 2012, Kansas City called.
“It was one of the greatest calls I got in my life,” he says. “God’s timing is perfect and got me and my family here for a reason. It is a huge blessing in my life, and baseball is what opened the doors.”
As Hudler would describe, broadcast is not as easy as it may sound. Think, three hours of talking live and unedited for 162 games a season, but his time with the Royals appears to be a natural fit. He speaks highly of the Royals as well as the Greater Kansas City community making it easy for him to call Kansas City home. It is the interaction he has with the people, their passion for the city and the values of the heartland that he loves the most.
When Hudler and his wife’s son, Cade, was born with Down syndrome, Hudler saw this as an opportunity that God gave them to help other families like theirs. They became heavily involved in charitable organizations in Kansas City including the development of their own charity, Team Up for Down Syndrome, a nonprofit organization established to raise awareness to assist children and families with Down syndrome by raising awareness and providing support for local families. They are also longtime leaders in the YMCA’s Challenger program, a special organization within the Y providing opportunities for children of all abilities to play sports, get active, and meet new friends.
On January 27th, one of the biggest fundraisers of the year, the Challenge Your Fashion fashion show, will be emceed by Hudler and his wife. It is a wonderful chance for sponsors to get out and continue their great mission as well as it gives each child a chance to shine, be applauded and cheered upon while wearing fancy clothes.
Hudler continues to zealously inspire his family and the community he loves while offering one universal message of adversity.
“The biggest lesson I have learned is how to persevere: how to not give up, how to reach your goals, and how to become a successful failure,” he says. You get kicked around. Be humbled, and don’t quit.”
Rex and Jennifer Hudler are co-chairs of this year’s Challenge Your Fashion event on Saturday, January 27, 2018. They have been longtime supporters of the Y’s Challenger program and Cade has been a Challenger Athlete participating in a variety of sports.