Thursday, July 03, 2014

play ball

Yesterday Mike and I had the extreme pleasure of being guests of the Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton in the Community Clubhouse at the Blue Jays game. The DSAH had been selling tickets to yesterday's game as a new fundraiser for them. In addition to use of the Jays Care Community Clubhouse, one of their members.... the now world famous I'm sure..... Cowboy Dave got to throw out the first pitch.


If I had to sum up the day in one word...... Wow. Just wow!

The whole day was just an incredible experience and Mike and I thank the DSAH for having us along. Specifically we are thankful for our wonderful friends John and Tracy. Tracy and I have known each other for close to twenty years, we met at work and a transfer separated us for a long while, but the past few years have found us back together. I met John through Tracy and the moment I met him I liked him instantly he's just one of those guys, you know. Working with Tracy I had a front row seat as they expanded their family to include serious little Natalie and Rockstar Ryan, who followed along shortly there after.


Rockstar Ryan is the push behind John and Tracy's involvement with the DSAH. Ryan was born with Down Syndrome and while that may have been unexpected John and Tracy didn't miss a beat. I know it couldn't have been half as easy as they made it look, but they certainly jumped right into being the best parents and advocates they could be for their son. While Ryan may have brought them to the organization now that they're there they feel an obligation to put forth their best effort for all of DSAH's members and that's the kind of thinking and dedication that inspires me.


I'd like to talk for a moment about our experience being in the Jays Care Community Clubhouse. First the staff. Absolutely top notch. They were pleasant, courteous and engaged with our entire group. The Jays organization have much to be proud of there. Now as a baseball fan I am completely fascinated by Major League pitchers. Mike will tell you I spend most games dissecting the different pitching styles on display. Casey Janssen is a particular favourite of mine, that guy is intense when he is pitching, but despite my love of MLB pitchers Sergio Santos was not really on my radar before he walked into the box yesterday morning.


That is Sergio Santos with a few of the DSAH members, including the now world famous Cowboy Dave there on the far right in the plaid shirt. Sergio could not have have been any more gracious with our group. He posed for pictures, signed autographs, and spent time chatting and visiting with the DSAH members and their families. Sergio wears number 21, a significant number in the Down Syndrome community. The Jays couldn't have sent a better representative to the box that day.


Cloud nine would not have been high enough for these guys. The thirty minutes or so that Sergio spent with us yesterday morning sealed the deal, making Sergio Santos my new favourite Jays player and I think you would find a lot of the people in that room share that sentiment. Not long after he left the Jays Care Community Clubhouse he would be meeting Cowboy Dave down on the field to catch the ceremonial first pitch that Dave tossed out. Cowboy Dave of course rocked that first pitch, even if they wouldn't let him pitch from the mound... not that he didn't try to convince them... and many down at the field told him that he did a better job than Fifty Cent, not that anybody in the room was surprised by his epic performance.


That's Cowboy Dave walking off field with Ace after rocking that first pitch. He came back up to the box to a well deserved round of applause in additions to lots of hugs and hand shakes. I feel very lucky to have been there for it. Yesterday was emotionally overwhelming for me in many ways and several times I found holding back the tears was near impossible. There is never a moment when I do not miss Ricky, but yesterday it settled into my chest like an incredibly heavy weight. I so happy to see the members of the DSAH enjoying this incredible experience, but obviously heartbroken at the opportunities that Ricky just didn't have.


And that brings me to why were Mike and I there. Well in a word we're being wooed or courted if you will. John has been very open about his interest in having either Mike or myself or both of us join their organization. He has big dreams for the DSAH and he's looking to load their organization with "doers". I guess the word is out that we fall into that category. Mike and I have taken the invitation very seriously and it's something we've been discussing the past few days. John is a crafty recruiter because after spending the day with the fine folks from the DSAH the following conversation happening in our kitchen...

Mike: I hate to say it, but we can't not get involved now.
and before I have a chance to respond
Mike: Well actually, I don't hate to say it.

There was never any doubt and I'm fairly certain JC knew that. 

Oh yeah and the Jays won too!


Betsy said...

What an amazing opportunity for you guys, and what an amazing group! Can't wait to hear more. =)

Julie Leclair said...

wow. goosebumps and teary eyes. what an awesome day. and the DSHA will be all the better with you and Mike on the team.