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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Cam Janssen nearly exploded out of his chair multiple times to take a picture with fans. Outgoing as anybody I’ve ever met.
- Baseball players, hockey guys, football dudes are all popular, but Fredbird rules the roost.
- Talking baseball with Ken Dayley and John Mabry is exactly like you think it would be. Awesome.
- You probably already knew this, but Matt Holliday is a powerful looking dude. Gracious and kind for sure.
- Jon Jay still won’t tell me what “Ouef” means, and this is the 2nd time I’ve asked.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mike Matheny was decked out in a suit, and he wore it well.
Need proof that the Blues don’t get enough love and respect in St. Louis? Check out the name card for Bernie Federko:
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.
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.