As Corinne Tucker and I set out for a day of Ticket Delivery, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Corinne was dressed as the ‘unofficial’ Pirates Mascot wearing a Pirates Baseball jersey, a Pirates baseball hat, and a foam finger. I was dressed to impress in my Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) purple polo. We had extra hats, Pirates t-shirts, and an additional foam finger that we would use as props for picture taking.
We arrived at Marjorie Kinnan Elementary School, the first of 44 Manatee County schools. As soon as we explained why we were there, Principal Hockenbury came out of his office with Mr. Dinger, the school contact, and greeted us with the warmest welcome full of excitement and gratitude. He immediately asked if we had time to wait for him to get the students out of class. He wanted us to give them their baseball tickets so they would know what a special opportunity this is. As the students were heading to the front office, Principal Hockenbury gathered each of their framed winning posters (which were proudly on display in the school library) so they could get their photo taken with their posters and their tickets. One by one the students arrived in the office and smiles were everywhere. They were uber excited about the baseball tickets and you could tell they were proud of themselves as Corinne and I congratulated them for being their school’s grade-level winners.
That first visit seemed to set the tone for the rest of the ticket deliveries. As we entered school after school, we were greeted with huge smiles and tons of gratitude from the staff, principals, teachers and the winning students. Everyone was excited to have the opportunity to attend a Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training game. What truthfully surprised me the most was the amount of gratitude we received from the school staff and teachers. They were very thankful that we offered them the opportunity to participate in the Attendance Awareness Poster Contest and had many positive things to say about the impact it had on so many students.
My favorite part of the three days of ticket delivery was getting a chance to congratulate the students in person and see their reaction to receiving their baseball tickets. Smiles, upon smiles, upon smiles. This will be the FIRST baseball game for many of the students. Most of the students were equally excited about eating a ‘baseball hot dog, popcorn, and soda’ as they were about attending the game. Apparently, they understand that baseball, hot dogs and popcorn go together! Some of the students were most excited to be able to share this occasion with their family and friends from school.
Each time we met one of the winning students in person and handed them their baseball tickets — I knew for sure this would be a memory that would last a long time for them. I could see by their huge smiles how proud they felt of their accomplishment. What I thought was going to be a few days of lots of driving turned into an experience I will cherish for a long time myself.
I can’t wait to see everyone on Game Day this weekend.