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March 5, 2019

Gratitude at the Ballpark

There are countless reasons to celebrate children and their efforts. On Saturday, March 2, 2019, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR), thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, took the opportunity to celebrate the school level winners of the Attendance Awareness Poster contest from Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Every elementary school selected a winning poster in each grade level. These talented young people won four tickets for the Rays vs. Phillies spring training game, vouchers for ballpark snacks, a parking pass, and a goodie bag of Ray’s fan gear and snacks.

Throughout the joyous day, I had the opportunity to hear experience gratitude in many different ways.

Set up began at 8:45 am for the 1:05 pm game. As I was carrying a load of supplies through the parking lot, a volunteer on a golf cart stopped me to ask what the people in the purple shirts were doing. I happily shared that SCGLR held an Attendance Awareness Poster Contest encouraging children to Strive for Less than Five Days Absent and to encourage them to make every day count. I told him about the winners from Charlotte and DeSoto counties who would be experiencing the day. The volunteer shared with me that he is a retired school teacher. He reflected on the struggle it was for children to catch up after being absent and the challenge it was for him to help them succeed when they missed so much school. He thanked me for the work that SCGLR does in the community and offered encouraging words to keep it up!

As I was setting up the registration table, another man stopped to get information on the day’s events at the purple tents. He shared that he was also a retired school teacher of 38 years. He told me stories of the kids he had taught and some of the efforts they made to get to school despite significant obstacles they may have faced. He told me that he had a soft spot for the kids that made those extra efforts to attend school. He thanked me and said how grateful he was to know that SCGLR was creating awareness and promoting the importance of attendance at school.

Before long, the winning families began arriving, and they were overcome with the generosity of The Patterson Foundation for honoring their children in such a special celebration. Thank you’s and words of gratitude were shared along with expressions of great pride in their children’s accomplishments.

As I enjoyed lunch with a family inside the ballpark, they told me how grateful they were to be able to attend this event as a family. They said that without the support of The Patterson Foundation, they wouldn’t have been able to bring the whole family. After lunch, I encountered another family in the stands who were making a point of thanking their child for making this fun family day possible for them.

I encountered three girls, each holding a baseball in hand, with big smiles on their faces. When I asked them where they got their baseballs, they told me they went up to the dugout and simply asked for one. They assured their parents that they had said ‘thank you.’

As with every SCGLR event, wrapping up is a breeze with teamwork. As we loaded the last car with the final items—there were hugs and shared gratitude for having the privilege of being part of a successful event that was so meaningful for the children and families.

School attendance, a baseball game, and gratitude…it was a winning combination this past weekend!

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