Right on schedule!
Marlins Ayudan team Just BeCause completed yet another beautification project along the Miami River on Friday of Marlins Ayudan Week (2/20). This time, they had help from another company that also recognizes the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility: The Marriott’s Spirit to Serve. Both groups worked for three hours on three different projects.
Team Just BeCause began their morning in a vacant, dirt-filled lot with two tall pallets of sod. After receiving direction from Brett Bibeau of the Miami River Commission, they began laying sod as if they were building a brick wall: one at a time, end to end, staggering the joints of the next row, and the next. While the sod was being laid, other team members picked up trash along the river’s shoreline and painted over a graffiti covered cargo container.
The next project was a block away in another vacant lot. This larger lot had plants lining the inside perimeter of a chain-link fence. Just BeCause and Spirit to Serve had the duty of spreading nearly 100 bags of mulch around the plants and throughout the lot. Everyone was surprised how quickly the stacks of mulch disappeared. It’s amazing how much more work can get done with a few extra helping hands.
The last project of the morning was exactly what Just BeCause did the month before, but in a different location and on a bigger canvas. Artist Serge Toussaint was on the scene once again, effortlessly sketching and painting fish, crab, coral, and other sea life under an overpass located next to the Miami River. The murals have made the drive along South River Drive that much more pleasant.
The Miami River area is really shaping up! I wonder what the next project has in store…
After a look back at Ayudan Week and all it had to offer, all I can say is, WHAT A WEEK!
The past ten days or so have been extremely eventful for the Miami Marlins and the South Florida community — from the Coconut Grove Arts Festival on Sunday, to the action-packed Winter Warm-Up on Saturday, and everything in the middle.
There was one event above all, though, that really stood out to me. This event really impacted me and truly opened my eyes to how amazing and engaged this organization is to its surrounding communities.
The 2nd Annual Ayudan Baseball Classic was as good as advertised. There was a little bit of everything; we had an honorary bench coach in Dee Gordon, Marlins World Series Head Coach Jack McKeon in attendance, web gems galore and even a home run.
The reason this special event resonated with me is because I, myself, am a product of the greater Miami area and grew up playing little league baseball. Watching those kids out there play in such a beautiful ballpark is something I, as a kid, could only dream of doing.
The Marlins organization has given these kids a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and sitting there in the stands gave me an awesome perspective as to what the Marlins are about. Watching Carlos Reyes hit a 360-foot home run that disappeared into the visitors’ dugout, and fist pumping with Miami Marlins team President David Samson and President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill, was surreal. Dee Gordon was calling for players to chest bump with him.
To sum things up, I think everyone enjoyed themselves this past week. I just feel like my experience really touched me because it hit home.
Hats off to the players of the RBI Baseball Classic for an amazing game. That experience will be something you can tell your grandchildren about someday.
Imagine playing a game of baseball: the smell of a freshly manicured field, the solid clay ground beneath you, the slender handle of a lightweight bat, the buzzing of the crowd.
Now imagine playing baseball without sight.
Impossible, some might say, but those people have never witnessed beep ball.
Beep ball is baseball for the visually impaired. Here’s how it works: There are six innings in a game, three outs per inning, four strikes and one pass ball per batter. The only sighted members of the game are the pitcher and catcher. The bases (2) are four foot padded cylinders with speakers that give off a loud, continuous buzzing sound when activated. There is no second base, only a first and third base. The ball also has a speaker that gives off a continuous beeping sound, hence the name “Beep Ball.” The batter listens for the beeping ball and swings. One of the two bases will be activated. Players must depend on their keen sense of hearing when deciding which base to run to.
The Miami Marlins held their third annual beep ball game at Marlins Park this past Monday during Marlins Ayudan Week, a week in which the Marlins front office staff and players commit to community involvement. 20 students from S.L.A.M. Academy and 20 members from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, whose ages ranged from seven to 21, joined together to form four teams: the Beep Ball Badgers, the Fire Kings, the Super Sluggers and the Nine Colts. All players were required to wear blindfolds.
Two separate games were held simultaneously, one on the main field and one in left field. The games were an hour long, including a five minute intermission for a field change, allowing all players the opportunity to play on the main diamond at Marlins Park. Marlins Ayudan team C’Mon Blue, captained by Marlins president Mr. David Samson, participated as base activators, score keepers, catchers and motivators. C’Mon Blue also had help from a few professional baseball players including Mike Dunn, Jarred Cosart, Aaron Crow, and Mat Latos.
The Nine Colts beat the Super Sluggers by just one point (10 – 9) and the Fire Kings scored two more runs than the Beep Ball Badgers (5 – 3). It was a great experience for everyone. It was competitive in the most lighthearted way. “I did it! I can’t believe I did it! I hit the ball and scored,” an elated 7-year-old named Kayden shouted.
This kind of excitement and happiness is what Marlins Ayudan lives for!
As you will recall, Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez threw a dramatic no-hitter on Closing Day of 2013 to defeat the Detroit Tigers. The day was unforgettable and memorialized with these pretty cool commemorative baseballs:
Well, it turns out those baseballs can be used for a lot more than just displaying in your trophy case…
Those baseballs got some great use at Marlins Ayudan Partner School Lenora B. Smith Elementary in Liberty City, as students used them in an interactive activity to bring to life the theme of their book club book.
The Book Club leader and Media Specialist, who also works with Marlins Ayudan on our literacy program, sent us a meaningful thank you note:
With meaningful words like that, the impact that Marlins Ayudan has on our youth is tangible. I cannot think of a better use of commemorative baseballs than this. The reality of the impact really came to life when we learned that the students took the message of their book to heart and went on to shine themselves by winning the first round of the Regional Book Battle.
It’s safe to say the Radical Readers at Lenora B. Smith are demonstrating the spirit of The Girl Who Threw Butterflies and of Henderson Alvarez with their dedication to reading and competing.
We look forward to seeing what these youth will do in the finals! All of the #FishFamily is cheering for you, Radical Readers!
The following entry was written early Saturday morning…
So, it’s 1:23am on Saturday morning, and I find myself at Coral Shores High School in the Florida Keys. I am sitting in a 12-passenger van, and I’m supposed to be asleep. But come on! This place is bustling with excitement, enthusiasm and a passion that I can’t quite put into words. “It’s Ragnar, baby!” At least that’s what keeps being shouted into the night!
I, along with my colleague Adrian Mora, am the navigator of Van #2 for the Marlins Ayudan Ragnar Relay Team. What is that, you may ask? Well, it is a 196-mile, 12-member relay race from Miami to Key West.
That’s right… 12 people, on foot, tag teaming it all the way to the Southernmost Point!
Team Marlins Ayudan has embarked on this challenge all in the name of charity. In particular, it is to honor the amazing athletes of Special Olympics Miami-Dade. So far Team Marlins Ayudan has raised over $7,200!
My fellow Blue Shirts humble me daily with their dedication to impacting others’ lives in a positive manner, but this experience has taken my admiration to a whole new level. Our van has only completed one of the three legs, but Van #1 is wrapping their second leg within the hour. Their mental toughness and stamina is inspiring… very reminiscent of the athletes for which they run.
To make a donation to the Special Olympics of Miami-Dade please visit our team’s donation page.