February 15, 2011
That Friday, I was encouraging the Rollins community to make cards for four randomly chosen children, two boys and two girls. The children were chosen from an organization called Hugs and Hope, which provides information on their website about ill children such as their name, picture, the types of diseases they have, and a list of things that the children like. Creating and sending out cards to people is one of my favorite activities to do for 5 Minute Difference.
Many people visited the table and made cards that day. One person in particular was Brandon Curson (Class of 2012), a member of the Tars baseball team. Brandon put a lot of time and thought into creating his card for Robert, one of the two boys selected from Hugs and Hope. Robert suffers from Mitochondrial Myopathy, seizures, heat intolerance and ulcers. It was listed on the Hugs and Hope website that he likes baseball, so Brandon connected with that. He drew a baseball diamond on the card and placed it in an envelope which he had received in the mail from the Red Sox, and addressed it to “future Red Sox.”
Later that night, Brandon and I attended the Athletic Formal and wound up talking more about Robert. Brandon mentioned how cool it would be to have him throw the first pitch at one of their baseball games. Since all of the children listed on the website are from all over the country, it seemed like a long shot that we’d be able to make that happen.
To my surprise, I discovered that Robert is from Sanford, which is only a short distance from the Rollins campus. Immediately, I sent out an email to Robert’s parents asking if it would be possible to have Robert come to the Tars opening baseball game to throw the first pitch of the season. Wendy, Robert’s mom, called me and said that Robert would love to do it. Overwhelmed with excitement, I contacted Brandon to let him know so that we could start planning.
On Saturday, February 5, I went to the Alfond Stadium at Harper-Shepherd Field to meet up with Robert and his family. Thanks to the generosity of Brandon and everyone who makes up the Rollins baseball team, Robert and his family were given free admission to the game as well as tickets for the concession stand and two baseballs signed by the team. Robert was nervous about going out on the field but the excitement could still be seen in his eyes.
Brandon brought him and his father out to the dugout to meet the team. Robert stood in the middle of the huddle while the team yelled “Robert on three, 1-2-3 ROBERT!” He then followed the players as they ran out to the mound. He wound up and threw the first pitch of the season to his catcher Brandon. The crowd cheered, and Robert smiled.
This experience could not have been made possible without the Hugs and Hope organization, the Office of Community Engagement, and the hard work of the Rollins baseball team and its coaches. It’s events like this that make me love what I do even more. It just goes to show you that participating in an activity that takes five minutes or less can make a bigger difference than you could have ever imagined.
By Michelle Lonk (Class of 2011)