Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting Global Community Engagement (GCE) at Florida International University committee member, Mariana Orcillez. GCE has been working with disadvantaged children in Santiago, Dominican Republic since 2000, providing clothes and educational programs to those who would otherwise not have that opportunity.
Mariana reached out to the Marlins in need of baseball equipment for the kids of Santiago aging from six to 17. When I learned about her philanthropic efforts, I thought to myself, “This is my first opportunity with the Marlins to do something great and serve those who truly need the help through baseball.” I couldn’t just meet expectations; I had to go the extra mile for these kids.
I got together 15 baseball bats for kids of all ages, a box full of Marcell Ozuna shirts, 30 pairs of pants and baseball socks. When Mariana saw what she was taking with her to the Dominican Republic, she leaped and shouted, “Thank you! Thank you! You don’t know how much this means to these kids!”
But what Mariana doesn’t know is how much this experience means to me.
As winter begins to melt into spring — or at least that’s what I hear from people outside of Miami — I find myself anxiously waiting for the start of Spring Training and this year’s baseball season.
Waiting… it’s something nobody really likes to do. Whether it’s in line at the grocery store or in traffic on the way home, nobody likes to wait.
Well, yesterday I met someone who is waiting. They are waiting for something far more important than what you or I wait for.
Three year old Asbel is waiting for a new heart.
Yesterday, Billy The Marlin and I walked through the hospital doors and made our way to a room filled with family and friends surrounding this little boy from Panama. He could not have appeared to be happier, wearing his Marlins hat and a smile that could brighten any hospital room.
He sat up and began to go through the gifts that Billy had brought him. He shook his bobble heads, threw his new Marlins baseball, put on his “Super Billy” cape, and upon finding a canvas painting of Marlins Park, he let everyone know, “I want to go there!”
After a few pictures with Billy, countless high fives, and a “gracias and thank you” from this polite little boy, we left the hospital keeping Asbel in our thoughts.
So, the next time you find yourself growing frustrated as you wait, try to be like Asbel and do it with a smile. Remember, there are people out there smiling while waiting for far more important things that there is no guarantee will ever arrive.
We’re all pulling for you, Asbel, and hope that your wait is almost over.
At the Fisher House in Miami, veterans’ families are treated as just that, family. Located next to the VA Medical Center, the Fisher House serves as a sanctuary or “comfort home” to military and veterans’ families, at no cost, while a loved one is receiving treatment.
In addition to complimentary boarding, the Fisher House also provides freshly prepared meals for guests. Nearly anyone who has had a loved one hospitalized for longer than a day knows how exhausting it can be. After sitting in a cold, stuffy, cramped room for hours, what could be more appealing than a fresh hot plate?
That’s where the Blue Shirts come in! Marlins Ayudan Team Kickin’ Asphalt were Fisher House chefs for the afternoon, preparing a potluck to satisfy any pallet. As soon as they arrived they began mixing, measuring, boiling, and baking.
The result was a buffet that included rolls, salad, green beans, carrots, rice, corn casserole, mac and cheese, and baked chicken. For dessert, Kickin’ Asphalt prepared cakes and cookies with coffee and lemonade to drink.
Preparation took a total of two hours. They didn’t get to serve the guests and get their reactions to the meal, but satisfaction was guaranteed.
Baked BBQ chicken beats cafeteria meatloaf any day!
Today was an amazing….
Today was a special day at Marlins Park -and that’s putting it lightly. The moments that made up today impacted everyone involved.
Today was so great because Marlins Foundation Charity Partner, Special Olympics of Florida, brought its skills clinic to Marlins Park. Athletes of all ages – eight to adult – showcased their skills on the field at Marlins Park. That’s right – they showcased their skills. As Marlins Ayudan volunteers that spent the morning working with the athletes, we were told early on that today we would learn a lot more about the athletes’ abilities than their disabilities. That’s exactly what happened.
The standout moment of the day for me began when I went over to speak to some 4th graders from Kensington Park Elementary. They were all so eager to talk to me about Marlins Park, about their day, about their favorite sports, and so on, and so forth. One boy in particular, Joshua, had a lot of questions about Marlins Park. I spoke with him for a long time until it was time to start the skills assessment. I told him I’d see him when see got to my station.
A few hours later when I finally welcomed Kensington Park Elementary to the [Major League!] dugout to get ready for base running, Joshua immediately stated with fire,
“Coach! I’ve been looking for you all day! I have so much more to talk to you about”.
His statement blew me away. First of all, I was honored. I felt like after knowing him for a mere half hour that I was one of his role models, like a mentor or older sibling, whose time was all that mattered to him. Second of all, he really did have so much more to ask about his surroundings. Joshua was in a never-ending pursuit of knowledge.
In addition to Joshua’s blossoming curiosity a few of the inspiring abilities I noticed in the athletes today were:
Chivalry amongst peers,
Rockin dance moves,
Knack for following directions,
Tolerance for others’ beliefs…
Oh, and of course:
Coming to work this morning I’m not sure the Marlins front office knew what to expect for a day working with Special Olympics athletes, but the early advice we received most definitely proved true – We would learn more about their abilities than their disabilities.
A beeping ball. Two buzzing bases. Blindfolds. A bat. This is the simple recipe for a game of Beep Ball. Yesterday the Marlins hosted an all- interns event, in which they teamed up with members of our charity partner, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, for the second time to play this modified game of baseball. It was a day full of fun, learning, and community. Teams competed for awards such as “Sportsmanship”, “Wackiest Team”, “Best Team Chant”, “Most Team Spirit”, “Most Competitive”, and “Best Team Name”.The time spent interacting throughout the day, particularly being one another’s eyes, was very powerful. It allowed our team to learn just as much from our guests as they did from us. It was evident that everyone involved was able to take away a positive memory, as well as a better understanding and appreciation for those within our community.