Standing Room Only for Baby Reesa

by on July 20, 2012 · 14 comments

Skip Pulled In the STARS!

Apparently, Skip’s generosity brings all the stars to the yard (or the church in this case).  The host of the charity event “STARS 4 Baby Reesa” worked with some St Louis and Mizzou sports favorites and an incredible team of volunteers from Sunrise UMC to create a miracle.  While the quick takeaway from the charity event might be that the miracle only affected the Stutzman family, that would be shortchanging the event by a lot.  Everyone in attendance had an opportunity to witness a miracle and share a very small but important piece of it.  Sometimes success in life comes from simply showing up.  Never was that more true than last night.  If you only made it through the door with a pink wristband, you succeeded in winning at life.

Without a doubt, there were many in attendance who were cleat chasers, memorabilia dealers, and some autograph seekers who were unaware of the Stutzman’s story.  That’s fine.  They gave money to charity to be there, and many probably failed to see the big picture.  When you look around at a large, packed room of people waiting patiently for what basically amounts to some signatures on inanimate objects and a photo op, you could easily lose sight of the end goal.  That end goal was to show support for the Stutzman family and to honor Reesa Stutzman in doing so.  Mission accomplished.

I would be absolutely remiss, if I didn’t begin with a giant “Thank You” to the volunteers from Sunrise United Methodist Church.  Some circulated through the crowd carrying trays of ice water, many helped by trying to moderate the flow to the athletes, and a few were hardy enough to handle parking and crowd control outside in 100 degree heat.  They were not difficult to pick out in the crowd, either.  They subtly combined neon light green “Sunrise” tshirts with incredibly pleasant smiles that seemed to give away not a hint of discomfort despite the stifling heat and myriad of steps taken to pull off an event that a professional event company would have trouble staffing.  Amazing stuff.  It’s not like they were donating their time for any discounted signatures or special access, either.  They paid just like everybody else.  Great work by a great and caring team.  They are proud to count Skip as one of their own, and it’s not because he is recognizable as a professional athlete.  When Skip donned the Sunrise team tshirt, he was just like everybody else – just happy to be there.

Then again, it was hard to find anybody who wasn’t happy to be there.

Waino was all smiles

Adam Wainwright was among the players to sign during the first hour of the event.  To be honest, it’s a little misleading to call it the “first hour”.  Wainwright, Freese, and Holliday all went well above and beyond an hour by a good 30 minutes or more to try and make sure that everyone who had paid for their autographs was satisfied.  An unfortunate few either didn’t hear the call over the PA system for their lines or simply arrived too late.  They were given an option of receiving a refund or getting their unused tickets turned into the equivalent of “super tickets” which gave them the chance to get items signed by pretty every player in attendance.  I spoke with 10-12 people who had missed out on the trio, and every single person was either happy to go with the “super ticket” option or simply leave knowing that they had contributed to a worth charity.  Good stuff, Cardinal Nation, good stuff.

 

You can imagine the excitement when 2011 World Series MVP David Freese entered the building.  Then imagine the surprise of the people who had never met Freese when they found him soft-spoken, gracious, and extremely friendly.  For a guy who could easily have been the center of attention in a 3 ring circus, David repeatedly put the focus back on Skip and Reesa’s family.

Mrs. Freese

 

 

Like many, I didn’t realize David Freese was married, but apparent the guy had no fewer than 5 female fans walking around in jerseys with “Mrs. Freese” on the back.  That’s great, but I can’t even imagine his phone bill.

 

 

The “Hugging Hungarian”

 

I have to admit that one of the highlights of the evening for me involved Al Hrabosky.  I’ve met Al several times before, but I witnessed a moment in time that will possibly be forever engrained in my mind, and I’m good with that.  As a family with a daughter with Down’s Syndrome passed by, the girl looked rather sheepishly at Al.  Her father explained that Al was the man on tv that she saw several times a week.  When Al picked up on the conversation, his response was “Come here young lady and give me a big hug.”  The look on her face was beyond priceless as it lit up with an expressive kind of joy that only children can have it seems.  She enjoyed a robust and lasting hug with Hungo, and he talked to her like she was the only person in the world for a few minutes.  Great stuff, Al.  Tremendous.

Joe

 

If there was a more accommodating player than Joe Kelly, then I didn’t meet them.  Joe was amazingly patient with every single person who had an autograph ticket, and he was all smiles for those who just wanted to snap a quick photo.  I had a chance to speak with Joe for a bit, and he’s just as down-to-earth as many of you suspect.  His Twitter feed (@Joe_Kelly_Jr) represents 100% authentic Joe.  He’s the real deal both as a young pitcher with a promising future and a nice guy with a presence that just puts people at ease.

 

The Wrench

 

 

Maybe the rest of baseball has yet to learn fully about the power of The Wrench, Allen Craig, but Cardinals fans know.  Maybe that’s why Sunrise UMC looked a bit like a Lady Gaga concert when Craig walked into the room.  You just thought he had a big impact on the field, didn’t you?  He had an even bigger one off of it last night, and he put every bit of focus into each inscription that you see him put into each at-bat.  I could have sworn that he waved the pen a few times before signing each item as well, but that was probably just my imagination.

 

From R-L: Jamie, Sean, and me

Finally, the night would not have been complete without Reesa’s parents, Sean and Jamie, in attendance.  My family was lucky enough to visit with them, and we shared a few moments of sympathy, empathy, and encouragement that will stick with me.  Sean, Jamie, and Reesa were the biggest “stars” in the room last night, and you cannot convince me otherwise.  Between interviews with local papers and 101 ESPN, I’m not sure how they found the time to take it all in.  Maybe that’s why Sean’s moving “thank you” to the gathering was both emotional and overwhelming.  Cardinal Nation, Sunrise UMC, Blues/Mizzou fans, and more showed up on a special night to create a standing room only crowd in support of a family very few of us knew.  By my definition, that constitutes a miracle.

 

I’m extremely happy to announce that the miracle produced some material results that will certainly help the family.  I do not have the final totals for the attendance or the fundraising effort, but Pastor Jim Blue was kind enough to update the crowd before the live auction that they had reached $50,000+ and climbing.  That was right before an amazing piece of artwork was auctioned off for a significant amount, and that does not include the blind auctions.  Sadly, I didn’t win either the autographed fiddle signed by Charlie Daniels or the guitar signed by the members of Lady Antebellum, but I was fortunate enough to be there and share a moment with a few players and the biggest stars on the stage (Sean, Jamie, and Skip).

I’ll be updating this later with more information and more pictures, but I’ve been asked about this event so many times that I wanted to get at least this much committed to pixels.  To keep up with the latest information about Reesa, please visit the Reesa website at www.babyreesa.com.

Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more information about miracles!

MORE BITS OF TID:

  1. Marc Rzepczynski has a great sense of humor about how his last name is pronounced.  He gladly accepted “Zerpinchskee”, “Zipper”, “Zepper”, “Scrabble”, “Rzep”, and I believe I even heard a “Zeppelin” or two.
  2. Mitchell Boggs looks a lot less like a pirate up close and looks more like the guy who would help you move a couch with his truck.
  3. Cam Janssen nearly exploded out of his chair multiple times to take a picture with fans.  Outgoing as anybody I’ve ever met.
  4. Baseball players, hockey guys, football dudes are all popular, but Fredbird rules the roost.
  5. Talking baseball with Ken Dayley and John Mabry is exactly like you think it would be.  Awesome.
  6. You probably already knew this, but Matt Holliday is a powerful looking dude.  Gracious and kind for sure.
  7. Jon Jay still won’t tell me what “Ouef” means, and this is the 2nd time I’ve asked.
  8. Daniel Descalso is a good looking guy.  Period.  He’s also Italian and has stated on many occasions that he’d be in the restaurant business if not for baseball.  I’m guessing he had about 200 female fans who were in attendance last night who would be at his restaurant no fewer than 10 times a week.
  9. The man who made possibly the most famous tackle in Super Bowl history for the Rams, Mike Jones, is huge.  I jokingly asked him to sign my bicep which might be the size of his wrist.  Huge presence.
  10. Henry Josey has crazy skills, and one of them is relating to people.  He made my son’s day by talking to him for several minutes and posing for a photo that I tweeted last night.
  11. Best moment of the night for 1 kid:  Kyle McClellan was checking out the charity auction items when he saw my wife and I standing in front of some items with our son.  He got our son’s attention and mouthed the words “No cutters.” which is part of the message he wrote on a 8×10 that he signed for us a few weeks ago.  Awesome stuff.
  12. Mike Matheny was decked out in a suit, and he wore it well.

Matheny

Need proof that the Blues don’t get enough love and respect in St. Louis?  Check out the name card for Bernie Federko:

Bernie Ferdko?

FINAL BIT O TID:  I apologize for the watermarks used on all the images, but we’ve recently experienced a lot of image “poaching” with no attribution given to us at all.  Also, I spent $1.99 on a watermark app for my iPhone, and I have to do something with it to justify the purchase. :)

MORE FINAL BIT O TID:  As promised, I have a bit more from the evening.

Henry Josey flashing the smile

 

Every time I looked over at Henry Josey he was smiling, grinning, and laughing.  The guy is a star in his own right, even if not everybody knows it.  For a relatively young guy in a group of much more experienced players, he really got it right.

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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{ 14 comments }

Dawn Schallenberg July 20, 2012

I was in attendance yesterday. I normally do not comment, but I have to say this event was ran by the most caring, upbeat, patient people I know. The volunteers from Sunrise (and Skip), were by far the most accomodating people I have ever seen at a benefit. HUGE kuddos to them. I teared up reading this post today, for it speaks of true Cardinal Nation. I am a 56 year old grandma who loves the Cardinals – never dreaming I would stand in 100+ degree heat to get a few autographs from the men I love; but the end result was totally worth it – what an out pouring of love for Baby Reesa and her family. Thank you to all – the players, retired players, volunteers and fans! God Bless.

Dennis July 20, 2012

Dawn, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I was truly impressed with just how patient the volunteers were, and many of them were teenagers. That speaks volumes about the church itself, and it reflects positively on everyone there. Most of all, thanks for coming out to support the Stutzman family.

Cardinal70 July 20, 2012

It sounds like an incredible event. I’m so glad that there was such an outpouring, but what else would you expect out of Cardinal Nation? Dennis, really appreciate you making this such a focus and I know you are glad to have made a difference as well.

Dennis July 20, 2012

It was definitely an incredible event. I expect a lot of Cardinal Nation at times, but this was well above and beyond anything I imagined. Just a sea of red/white jerseys in all directions. For us, it was a great opportunity to show mini-gr33nazn that there are real people with real challenges behind the charities we support. Putting faces with something like this really helped the idea sink it deeply for him.

Troy Merseal July 20, 2012

Dennis

I helped Skip put on this event and this article was so well written I about broke down 3 or 4 times during this article. I would love to share this with Reesa’s family and our congregation. Yes, these volunteers love what they do and it takes a team to put this on. A team of current and former athletes, a team of volunteers and a team of people paying money for the right reasons to stand in line, in the heat, and get autographs. St Louis sports nation is fantastic. Thank you for being there and sharing this “miracle” with all of us. May God bless

Dennis July 20, 2012

Troy, you are welcome to share this story with anybody you like. I believe that you and I actually spoke on the phone right after noon on Monday, because I called to purchase pre-sale tickets (including 2 for Skip).

I had actually contacted the Stutzman family and offered to promote the event on the blog here and via Twitter, so I’ve been corresponding with Sean and Jamie for a month or so. That’s why my family was so excited to meet them.

I have several pictures from the event that Sunrise UMC is welcome to have. Just let me know if you are interested, and I will email them.

Thank you again for everything you and everyone else at Sunrise did.

-Dennis Lawson

Sean Stutzman July 21, 2012

Dennis-

Thank you so much for your promotion and support of this wonderful event. You have a beautiful family and I’m so glad that we got a chance to meet and chat for a while. Words can’t describe how thankful we are to Troy, Emily, the volunteers at SunRise, the athletes who donated their time and of course to Skip for raising awareness about Reesa and Krabbe disease in a way that we could never do on our own. Jamie and I found ourselves getting caught up in all of the excitement last night and we had to remind ourselves that everyone was there to support our daughter. Today has been very emotional for us as we reflect on the love and generosity that we were shown by people that we had never met before. St. Louis is a special place with special people. We got home a few hours ago and told Reesa about all the people that care about her and all of the prayers that are being sent her way. She feels the love!

Thank you,

Sean, Jamie and Baby Reesa

Dennis July 21, 2012

It was our pleasure to do whatever we could to spread the word. It’s great to hear that you and Jamie had an opportunity to experience the excitement and then realize why the excitement was there. I’ve never been more proud of this area than I was that evening. Amazing turnout for a special event, and we here at the blog hope that every contribution to this effort helps in ways big and small. Hugs to Reesa from all of us who are not lucky enough to meet her.

Dennis

Emily Brown July 21, 2012

Dennis,

I saw you offered Troy your photos from the event and I would love if you sent them to me so we could put them up on our SunRise Facebook page. I am so happy you had a great time! Our church loves being able to help out anyway we can and were so lucky to have had this opportunity to help baby Reesa! We love hearing the stories and how people were touched by this event. Sean and Jamie are such amazing people and parents all our love and support goes to them and they will always have SunRise as a support team! We will continue to follow Reesa’s sorry on her website. And their family is forever in our prayers.

Dennis July 21, 2012

I’m sending a set of the pictures to you right now. We’ll have to check out the Sunrise UMC FB page later. If you don’t mind, I’m sure a lot of other people who read this blog will be interested in seeing them as well, so a link to the FB page would be great.

Thanks,
Dennis

Amy B July 21, 2012

Hi Dennis! I read your blog regarding Baby Reesa and her family via Facebook and wanted to say a few words. Unfortunately, a few words can’t describe the kind of people Jamie and Sean are.

I’ve been blessed to have known Jamie for over 18 years and to say she is a special person is an understatement. Jamie has a generous, loving heart of gold and Reesa truly is in the best hands possible.

While I met Sean through Jamie and dont know him as well, I can say he is an amazing father!! He was sooo excited to have a baby. He was buying books, asking questions, following blogs, and researching as much as possible about pregnancy, birth and babies because he wanted to do everything right. I have never seen a dad be so involved.

Since Reesa’s diagnosis I have admired Jamie even more than I did these last 18 years of being her friend. While her and Sean travel this hard road they have remained upbeat, appreciative, and loving. They haven’t asked for anything except prayers for their baby girl. While people show their support to the Stutzmans they still show support for their friends. I recently had my first baby and Jamie took time to visit me and share my joy with me. She continues to check in on me and my new baby when I should be the one checking in on her more often. She is a selfless person.

I also want to mention Reesa’s grandparents who are also traveling the hard road with Jamie, Sean and Reesa. They are watching their babies watch their baby hurting and I can’t imagine the pain they feel.

Jamie, Sean and Baby Reesa truly deserve all the support they have received from your great community. I am so happy they have Skip. He seems to be an amazing person to use his resources to create such awareness. We all wish we could take away the whole family’s pain and I am personally thankful to your community for being able to bring some relief and joy to such a deserving, special family.

Thanks for posting your blog so the people that can’t be at the event can see how it went.

Dennis July 21, 2012

Amy – First, let me begin by congratulating you on the addition to your family. Every baby is a true miracle, and every diaper that needs to be changed is something else.

Secondly, thank you very much for taking time to provide a glowing testimony about Sean and Jamie. I spoke with several people at the event who were glad that they made the trip, because many people wanted to see and hear them. There is just something about that which makes the giving more personal for some people (myself included).

Both Mike Stutzman and Heather Stutzman were kind enough to leave comments on the original story I wrote about the event. http://www.pitchershiteighth.com/2012/06/18/stars-4-baby-reesa/

I’m honestly just thrilled that we were able to help in any small way. Using this platform for something other than just baseball was something I’ll never forget. The same may be said for Sean and Jamie. The picture we took with them is now the wallpaper on my desktop to remind me of blessings big and small.

I wish everyone in their loving network of friends and family nothing but the best.

Dennis

Jim July 25, 2012

Dennis
Thanks for such a great blog about the Baby Reesa event at SunRise and thanks for sharing your photos with our communication coordinator. In reading the blog you mentioned an auction item that caught your fancy. If still interested contact me at the email address i provided with this note…. Blessings!!!
Jim Blue – Lead Pastor @ SunRise

Dennis July 26, 2012

Jim – Many thanks to you and everybody else at Sunrise UMC for working so hard to make the event a success. You will be hearing from me later today about the item that caught my eye.

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