In celebration of the of the Major League Baseball season getting underway this week the following is a story that I shared on Facebook a few years ago after one of the best days of my life:
So, let me tell you my story. It all began at 2:30 a.m. on Friday, November 4, 2016. I was awake this early in anticipation of the day before me. My brother Cory, my niece Clair, and I would be setting off at 4:30 a.m. to be a part of the Cubs World Series victory parade and rally in Grant Park. We decided to leave this early so that we could catch one of the earliest trains into the city, as we knew that there would be millions of people attending the rally.
We arrived in Elburn, Illinois at a little after 6 a.m. and promptly caught the train that would take us into downtown Chicago. On the way we sat in nervous anticipation of the sights and sounds we would encounter as we made our way to the rally. We arrived in Chicago a little after 7 and we hopped off the train. Almost as soon as we left the train, there was singing and people waving banners. It was going to be a party!
On excursions such as these I usually take a wheelchair, as it makes getting around so much easier for me. So, I in my wheelchair, and my brother and niece on foot, set out for Grant Park, which is nearly a mile from the train station.
On our way, we saw thousands of others headed in the same direction. The streets were a flurry of activity, as vendors were selling t-shirts, beads, and flags. Street musicians were there providing a soundtrack to the city that was oozing with World Series euphoria. Was this really happening, or had the last two weeks just all been a dream? The Chicago Cubs, my team, our team, had finally done it. They had become champions, and we were going to celebrate!
We slowly made our way towards Lake Michigan. We then walked past the lions that guard the entrance to Chicago’s Art Institute. They were standing there proudly with their Cubs helmets on greeting the masses as they strolled passed. As we got closer to Grant Park, the crowds really began to thicken, for we all had to pass through a security checkpoint before gaining access to the park. We inched along with the thousands of others that had gathered until we finally reached the entrance to the park.
Hundreds of thousands of people were lined up along the parade route, while hundreds of thousands more began to find their places for the rally inside the park. Cory, Clair, and I made our way down a rather steep, and muddy hill into the park. This was kind of fun in a wheelchair. I don’t know how Cory was able to keep ahold of me and the chair. We eventually made it down the hill, with the help of a fellow Cubs fan. Some people are still very kind, a lesson that I was to be reminded of yet again a short time later.
We staked out our spot, which was nowhere near the stage, but close enough to a video board, that we’d be able to catch all of the events of the rally there. Cory and Clair then went to get some food from one of the many food trucks lining the streets outside the park. The smells in the air were amazing! As I was sitting waiting for their return I made some small talk with a police officer, who was standing inside the security fence that lined the interior of the park. We chatted for a bit and then I was approached by a very kind looking gentlemen, who was very busy, yet took time to speak to me.
This gentleman asked how long I had been a Cubs fan and how long I had been at the rally. He then asked me who was at the rally with me. I explained that I was with my brother and my niece. He asked where they were at, and I replied that they were getting some food. He asked if they would be returning soon, and I said yes. That is when I knew that this man had something in store for us. Something that would be like Christmas, my birthday, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one.
I quickly sent Cory a text letting him know that he had better return quickly, as our day was going to be getting better than we had ever expected. Cory and Clair returned in a matter of minutes, upon which the kind gentleman opened a gate and led us down a long aisle that led directly to the front of the park. On the way he checked to make sure that I was not embarrassed by being wheeled along in front of thousands of others who were not being afforded the same treatment. He did all of this for me purely out of the kindness of his heart. Cory, Clair, and I were now approximately 30 feet from the stage. The stage that our Cubbies would be speaking from in just a matter of hours! We thanked the man for allowing us access to this part of the park, and he went about his tasks making sure that everything was ready for the rally to begin.
I assume by observing him that this man was the director of the event, as he went about making sure that others were doing their assigned tasks. I wish I knew how to thank him, as he gave us all an experience that we will never forget. In the few hours that we spent at the rally I had to keep asking myself why would someone do this for us? We did not deserve this this type of treatment. We were just there to watch the rally and soak it all in as best we could. The simple answer, there are still humble and kind people in the world. I fall short of this every day. This man taught me a lesson by giving me an incredible gift. It may not seem like much to others but I spent the day just appreciating being with family, enjoying the beautiful, blue sky, and getting to experience something that is truly once in a lifetime. I was a part of history today, a beautiful, blue humbling history. GO CUBS!