Ryan Dempster decided in 2009 that he wanted to establish a charitable foundation. The legal paperwork was easy enough, but picking a specific cause to support required more thought.

Since his days as a minor league player, when he volunteered to speak at elementary schools and Little League banquets, Dempster had supported various organizations and endeavors. His commitment increased over the years as he became more established in baseball.

“We have a great opportunity as athletes to give back,” said Dempster, who in December signed a two-year contract with the Red Sox. “But all I really knew when we started the foundation was that it would involve helping kids.”

In April of that year, the righthander’s decision was made for him. His second child, a daughter named Riley, was born with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause a wide range of health and developmental disorders.

Experts estimate that as many as 1 in 2,000 babies are affected by 22q, making it second only to Down syndrome in rate of occurrence. But 22q often goes undiagnosed for weeks, months, or ever at all.