Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise

Often times my role takes me away from hard core sports and to places where I meet the everyday heroes of life. Last week I went to see the daughter of Jackie Robinson, Sharon Robinson, give out an award at Lakota Ridge Junior High in West Chester. The award is part of the Breaking Barriers essay contest for students in grades 4-8. Sharon Robinson runs the program for Major League Baseball. She is a wonderful person who loves the students and gave an inspiring account of what made he father tick. It's the same thing that makes Lakota Ridge 8th grader Meggie Zahneis tick. She won the contest out of close to 10,000 entrants from the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Meggie is a terrific writer and made a big impression on Ms. Robinson. She also made a huge impression on myself and photographer Paul Mato. Here is a link to the story that aired on WLWT that evening. Meggie sent me a nice Thank You note for covering her event, and I thank her deeply for the nice note. Meggie also included the following narrative about the day. It is written from the point of view of her eyeglasses. Yes, she is a talented young lady and in the short time I talked with her she displayed a keen sense of humor. Thanks again to Meggie and Sharon Robinson for allowing us to meet such inspiring people and to be part of a nice, inspiring day!

If Eyeglasses Could Talk…

Finally! It was almost 6 a.m., and though the sun had started to rise, I was feeling pretty lonely after spending the night alone on the kitchen table. My owner, Meggie, snatches me as soon as she plods downstairs, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. The day starts fairly normally; after Meggie’s teeth are brushed and he backpack packed, she gives her mom the obligatory have-a-good-day kiss, and we head out the door. But today, surprisingly, was different. I could sense Meggie was a little jittery during first-period English, and I start to wonder what was going on as the day wears on. Meggie seems restless, as if anticipating something.

Then, at last, I begin to unravel the mystery that was her excitement. After 6th period, I hear a PA announcement calling Meggie to the guidance office. As she practically runs down the hall, I catch a glimpse of a woman in the office window. I don’t know who she is, yet her face looks vaguely familiar and I can’t help thinking I know her from somewhere. But where? As Meggie impatiently yanks open the office door, I instantly become enveloped in a giant hug from the mystery woman, and caught in a blur of excited voices. It’s then that Meggie finally sheds some light on the woman’s identity, with an ecstatic uttering of, “It’s so great to meet you, Ms Robinson!” So that’s who it is! Of course; Sharon Robinson! I’d seen here face before, on the dust jacket of her books. She’s the daughter of Jackie Robinson! After being temporarily jarred by her monster hug, I recover and revel in Meggie’s big moment. But I still don’t know why on earth Sharon Robinson is here, at Meggie’s school, right in the middle of 7th period!

I soon find out. Meggie joins a posse of relatives, teachers, and classmates in the school gym, which is packed full of students, teachers, and even a few guys with fancy cameras. What is going on here? Then the principal, Mr. Gendreau, starts talking and the gym suddenly gets quiet. I notice that for some reason, Meggie and I aren’t sitting with her classmates. Instead, we sit on some folding chairs next to a podium. My curiosity mounts as Mr. Gendreau reminds everyone to be a considerate audience. The secret is then finally revealed – he introduces Meggie as the grand prize winner of Scholastic and Major League Baseball’s Breaking Barriers essay contest!

Meggie then steps up to the podium, quivering with nervousness and pushing me up further on her nose, Then she takes a deep breath and loudly, clearly begins reading from what I guess is her winning essay. Wow! Am I ever a proud pair of glasses! It amazes me to see the world through Meggie’s eyes; I’m looking out at the crowd of hundreds of people gathered, listening intently to what she is saying, loving every moment of it, just as I know Meggie is. My lenses even start to mist up a little bit.

After the presentation by Ms. Robinson, I’m surprised to see a TV reporter rushing up to Meggie. He introduces himself as George, and requests an interview, which Meggie quickly grants. I sure hope by lenses are clean! I stare straight at the camera as Meggie fields George’s questions. Although I am excited, I can’t help but feel a little intimidated by the shockingly bright light emitted by the cameraman’s equipment.

Then, once the interviews are over, we quickly head to Meggie’s teacher’s classroom Mrs. Redman is waiting there with the class. Ms. Robinson signs copies of her book for everyone, and soon it’s time to go home and get ready again – I’m told Meggie, her brother Nick, and I get to go on the field at the Cincinnati Reds game!

We get home with just enough time for Meggie to tear open her new laptop computer, and wow, is it ever a nice one! It’s so think and light that at first I couldn’t believe my lenses. This day was beginning to feel more and more like Christmas morning in the middle of May!

When we got to the ballpark later that night, I couldn’t wait to me Lorrie from the Reds and get the party started! First, though, Meggie and I take in a little batting practice from the stands and meet up with some family members. Then we make our way to the ticket office, where we finally meet Lorrie and another Breaking Barriers winner. Before long, Meggie’s parents bid adieu and Nick, Meggie and I follow Lorrie around the park to the field. Along the way, we pick up Ms. Robinson and get a standing ovation from some people in the Crosley Room. I feel so important! Next, we head down through a tunnel, passing the visitor’s clubhouse, the umpires’ suite, and finally the visitor’s dugout, my excitement mounting all the way. At long last, we’re on the field! It’s truly amaxing to take in – I was astounded by the sheer size of the place. I’m still in awe of the whole thing.

Then Lorrie positions us on the field and tells us to look straight ahead at a camera I can’t seem to find. Regardless, Meggie and Jacob, the other contest winner, smile and wave happily, while I bask in it all, glad to be along for the ride. We go back to the seats and take in the game.

Later that night, after everyone has gone to bed and I’m once again alone on the kitchen table, I think back on what a great day it’s been. I know I’ll never forget it, but at the same time, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

Thanks to everyone who helped make it an unforgettable day!
Meggie Zahneis

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