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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sweet 16 To Remember

Kayla turned 16 on July 15th. Sweet 16! I know, right? How did this happen? It was a magical sweet 16 and one that I hope she'll always remember.

We took a road trip to Massachusetts with stops in Maryland and Connecticut. We had a visit with my dad's side of the family and a birthday celebration for Kayla and my cousin's daughter (who turned 18 two days after Kayla turned 16).

One of the main reasons we made this trip was for Kayla to participate in the National Down Syndrome Society's PLAY Campaign with MLB (more on that in another post). When I saw the date for the event at Fenway Park was on July 15 - Kayla's birthday - and that the Red Sox were in town and playing a game that night, I knew I wanted to make this happen. I've been wanting to take my kids to a game at Fenway Park and this provided a perfect opportunity!

A quick birthday celebration with a few gifts before heading into Boston for the PLAY Campaign in the morning and the game that evening.

Her favorite player is Mookie Betts. When we first told Kayla what we were doing for her birthday she was so excited and said she wanted to meet him; I told her I wasn't going to promise that would happen and knew it was unlikely, but that we were sitting in the right field section so she would at least get to see him play.

In between the PLAY Campaign and the game we explored a little bit of Boston. We took the water taxi across to the North Side and the USS Constitution. On the way back we got on the Green Line at Government Center and the train almost immediately started getting crowded. Joe and Kayla were holding on to a pole at one side by the door and Lucas and I were on the other side. At each stop more and more people kept squeezing on. Kayla was getting anxious and there was a lady who seemed to notice and started talking to her, trying to distract her. She noticed Kayla's Sweet 16 headband and was asking if it was her birthday and then she got everyone on the train to sing Happy Birthday to Kayla. It was pretty cool to have a car full on the MBTA sing to her! This was my view - nothing but armpits, ha!

At the top of every inning Kayla would go down to the wall and wave and try to get Mookie's attention as he was warming up with someone from the bullpen. People in the crowd took notice of her and started cheering and calling his name, trying to help her get his attention. One guy who had a ground foul ball thrown to him from the Toronto right-fielder gave Kayla the ball.

We had seats about 5 rows from the front of this wall, but the people sitting here left early and told Kayla and Lucas they could have their seats. One of the guys managed to finagle a ball from the bullpen (at least we think that's what happened because no foul or fair balls were hit in our section) and he gave it to Kayla on his way out. So now she snagged TWO baseballs! But it didn't stop there.

The usher for our section let me know that at the top of the 9th inning after Mookie finishes his warm up, he comes over to find someone to give the ball to ... so he was saying make sure Kayla would be up waving her arms.

AND IT HAPPENED!! Mookie Betts, her favorite player (and one of mine if I'm being honest!) and all she wanted to do was meet him AND SHE DID! He came over and gave her the ball, shook her hand, and said "Nice to meet you."

It made her night. It made all of ours night. The crowd around us were cheering and clapping and yelling, they were so happy for Kayla.

Here is the video from Joe's phone and from a lady who was behind us in the stands.

We all signed Pesky's Pole after the game. Kayla wrote Mookie's name, and her own.

Lucas wrote "Lucas wants red socks" haha!

He also ended up with a baseball given to him by the usher, and it was scuffed up, so it was used in the game at some point!

Then Kayla signed the bottom part of the pole with "Mookie to (the) best player. I said hi. Kayla" 

What a magical birthday! Going to her first Red Sox game at Fenway Park, seeing a grand slam by Michael Chavis, the Red Sox won 10-8, 4 baseballs between Kayla and Lucas, and shaking Mookie Betts' hand!


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to Kayla! Glad she (and all of you ) had such a wonderful time!

Mom24 said...

Absolutely magical! I'm so happy for her. That is definitely a birthday to remember. <3

Mary Lou said...

I’m not sure why—perhaps it is because I have an adult brother who has Down syndrome, and is my best friend—but this story touched me!! ;)
Happy, happy, happy birthday, Kayla!! <;-D
Choose Kind!! ;)
Mary Lou

Sabrina Steyling said...

Happy Sweet 16, Kayla! What a magical time you had! So glad you got to meet your favorite player. How awesome!

Adelaide Dupont said...

Happy birthday dear Kayla
Happy birthday dear Kayla

This was a 16 you made so sweet.

I wish your cousin a happy 18th [one of mine crossed a milestone too this May].

And the whole anxiety-distraction thing - oh yes! oh no!

What a day in the bullpen.

And the travelling.

Heather said...

What an awesome experience! Happy birthday, Kayla!

Anne B. said...

Happy VERY belated birthday to Kayla! What an adventure! And these blessings she received have restored my faith in humanity!!!! Thanks for sharing! I've missed your posts!