Unbelievable! It was so amazing and undoubtably a memory that we will talk about for years to come.
We were asked a couple weeks back if Abbey would like to participate in a promotional event with the Cleveland Indians to promote a fundraiser called "Kick-It" to raise money for childhood cancers. Of course we said absolutely, but had no idea what to expect. We knew she would play kick ball with some of the players, but didn't know much else of what would go on.
When we got to Progressive Field we met about 10 other families that were there who also had a child with some form of cancer. The kids ranged in age from age 3 up to teenagers, with different ages all in between. Our Abbey was the youngest there. As we stood waiting for the instructions from the people who organized the event, I was looking around at each family who has battled this disease and it was hard to hold back the tears as I know the pain each family has endured. It also was a time of thankfulness as we were the only people in this huge stadium and to think that these guys were doing this for our kids and the other families who have been affected by this horrible disease.
Each child with cancer got a red shirt and a bag of buttons with their picture on it (see picture of Abbey with her "Kick-It tatoo" and button). When the guys from the team came out, each child was told that they could come on the field to pass out their buttons and meet the guys. At this point, we had no idea if Abbey would be comfortable with going on the field without us and go pass her buttons out. There was a lady that worked with the "Kick-It" team and she was so sweet and kind with Abbey, that Abbey immediately took to her. This lady held Abbey and started taking her around to the players. Abbey can be very shy around people that she doesn't know and even more shy around men. Amazingly, Abbey warmed up quickly to the guys and started walking around passing out her buttons. The guys were all so sweet and caring with these kids. It was very touching. They were kneeling down to talk to her and we couldn't believe how great Abbey did. After the kids all passed their buttons out, the president of the Indians organization, Paul Dolan, and the founder of "Flashes of Hope" and "Kick-It", Allison Clarke spoke in front of some media while the players and kids stood around them. The one player, Trevor Crowe picked Abbey up and held her during the whole press conference. And a small side note for you Indians fans...the players that were there were Cliff Lee, Jamey Carroll, Jensen Lewis, Trevor Crowe, Josh Barfield, Matt Herges, manager Eric Wedge and third base coach, Joel Skinner (it's hard to see their faces really good in the pictures).
After that, they played their kick ball game. Abbey was the first one up to kick and she did so great. She ran her little heart out as the guys cheered the kids on and coached them on where to run and when. The game was so much fun. Each time Abbey was on third base or in the outfield, Eric Wedge made sure to encourage her and talk to her.
When the game was over, they had hot dogs, pretzels and ice cream for us all to enjoy. It was such a neat experience and one that we will never forget.
As we left that day, I realized how much Abbey has grown up over these last 8 months. As we have been so focused on getting her well and all that we were going through, it was something that I feel like I missed during this time. These last couple of weeks, as I watch her interact with people I am realizing that although we were stuck in the house and everything seemed to be a blur, she continued to grow up and continues to turn into this amazing little person that I just love so very much.
And as a side note... I know I put a lot of pictures on (and they aren't the closest or clearest), but I loved each one so much that I had to share them with you all. If you click on the picture, it will make it bigger so you can see the players better (and pick Abbey out on the field as she was running the bases :). There were some professional photographers there on the field during the event and they said that we will all get a disk with them on it so I will share the better pictures with you when we get them.
Also, I will be doing a post soon about "Kick-It" and a way that you can get involved or play in a fun game with your family while raising money for childhood cancer. We are playing in a big game mid-July and will be organizing our own later this summer.
And keep your eyes open while watching Indians games. They will be airing parts of the kick ball game between the Indians and these special kiddos at the games and on t.v. :) We also know it has been shown on some local news. If we get a video of it, we'll be sure to post it on the blog :) Click Here to see the write up on the Indians website and Here to check out the "Kick-It" website.