Back in early June, Joe received this email:
Congratulations on being chosen as a finalist for the PEOPLE and Major League Baseball’s “Tribute for Heroes” campaign!
The Team representative choosing will begin Sunday, June 9 on www.tributeforheroes.com. Be sure to encourage your friends, family and colleagues to support you online before June 30.
In the meantime, starting June 10 both PEOPLE and MLB’s PR teams will be in touch as they pitch your amazing story. Again, congratulations and please confirm via email (“I agree”) you agree to the contest!
And boy did we start “encouraging” our friends, family and colleagues! We were showered with amazing e-mails, letters, messages, shout outs and shares from loads of people. We connected with people that we haven’t spoken to in years. The outpour of support was unbelievable. Within a couple of weeks after the voting ended, we received this message:
Congratulations! Per our conversation, you are the top vote getter for your club in the PEOPLE and MLB Tribute for Heroes campaign!
It’s a real tribute to you and your extraordinary service.
We couldn’t believe it – all of that voting, sharing, begging and he actually WON! We had about two weeks to get organized for our trip to New York. Wait, I had two weeks to get ready for New York – Joe just throws some stuff in a bag and jumps on a plane. I, on the other hand, need to organize myself, the animals, the boys ….. and the list goes on.
We are so fortunate to have my mom here in Columbus to help out. I got the babysitters lined up, packed the boys and sent them to MeeMa’s.
Our trip was a whirlwind from start to finish. A driver picked us up at our house and delivered us to the Atlanta airport. That was a first! Once we arrived in NYC, we were taken to the Grand Central Hyatt. Our week was filled with great people, amazing events and a trip that we will never forget.
My favorite part was the All-Star Gala. This was the party of all parties. It was held on the USS Intrepid. The atmosphere was electric with more food, drinks and music than I have ever seen in one place. We saw The Roots in concert and danced – for hours. Well, Joe didn’t dance but I sure did. Joe’s favorite part was the All-Star Game. He and the other finalists were escorted out onto the field to meet their favorite player. Joe later told me that it was “exhilarating to be there in the moment”.
We left New York with our hearts full and with great respect for all of the heroes and their guests on the trip. We met wives, girlfriends, mothers, fathers, grandchildren and friends – all amazing people who are supporters of their “hero”. We left with a camaraderie that is unparalleled and one that we want to hold on tightly to.
Everyone on the trip was well deserving and a joy to be with. We are honored to have been included with them.
Thank you to everyone who voted. Thank you Mrs. Zada Feightner and Nico Marcolonga for nominating Joe. I wish we could have brought you along to share the experience with us.
We will carry these memories with us and cherish them always.