Autism Awareness Day at Turner Field

by on September 9, 2010

A Friend of Baseballisms, Rickey Scarbrough, is the founder of Maggie’s Hope.  The Mission of Maggie’s Hope is to reach out to families who might be in need of funding for unfunded co-pays, alternative treatments and access to special dietary solutions. He hosted a special Autism Awareness Day at Turner Field, and was so kind to share his story with us. You can keep up with his efforts via Twitter or Facebook.

Thanks for sharing Rickey!


Maggies Hope | Autism Awareness Day | Baseballisms.comSunday morning, 29 August 2010, 0900, we pulled the truck into a spot located near the front of the Green Parking Lot at Turner Field, Atlanta Georgia. I kill the engine and glance over my shoulder pausing, if only for a brief moment. “Let’s do it” I say with guarded confidence. Our team springs into action. Gathering our gear I give a nod to my First Mate and Daughter Mia E Scarbrough. Her eyes tell me everything I need to know. Good to go. Her journey to this point in life has been no picnic. Maggie gets a lot of press, and is the face of our organization. Maggie’s therapy, diet, IEP, supplementation, meltdowns and recovery are forever walking point at Scarbrough Headquarters {HQ}. Mia is the un-sung hero, quietly living her life, loving her sister and excelling at everything she tries, all with the compassion and grace far beyond her nine years. I am proud to have her at my side and together we will bring our message to the masses preparing to enjoy our nation’s pastime.

For today’s mission we have secured the assistance of my assistant and first cousin Jennifer W Garten and her husband Stephen. Decked out in their Maggie’s Hope Battle Dress Uniforms {BDU}, they set up position at my flank and gather our essential gear. Ballpoint pen, check. Maggie’s Hope flyer, check. Info Sheet, check, grub {granola bar, plain}, check. Embarking on their first mission {greener} they have yet to develop the thousand yard stare, but do not let that fool you. Their commitment is mission critical and having walked in formation at the Atlantic Station sortie two years in a row they are no stranger to our movement.

Our contact intercepts us at the rendezvous point and lays out the logistics of today’s activities. Thankfully they special ordered overcast weather, nothing like preaching Autism Activism while dancing around to keep the souls of your shoes from melting in place. A small chance of precipitation does not dampen our  spirit and we go about arming the booth and establishing a perimeter. I scout the immediate area and recognize our allies. Odd that the bigger Autism organizations opted out, no matter we have a small but committed contingency. Making my way from position to position I catch up with old friends and sign on some new ones. I am honored to stand among you.

The line to enter the field wraps up three levels and represents every point of the spectrum. How many variations of Autism are represented? Laugh out Loud {you all know that one}. Take a snowflake, magnify it under an electron microscope, count the corners and points, multiply that by 947 and there you have it. Not even close. You would have a better shot of naming each star in the universe. Not just our universe but all that exist, have existed, or will exist in the future. I was witness to one ten year old boy, a Maggie’s Hope candidate, who experiences both epilepsy and autism, walk with his mother and grandmother. His eyes wide, head high and step by step we marched along the warning track. It was his first baseball game, but not his last. I will be there when he takes the field this fall for his special needs team.

The Atlanta Braves must have known that you NEVER give up while fighting through adversity. They trailed the Florida Marlins the entire game. With many fans sitting in their cars beating the traffic America’s Team fought on. As a kid I never saw the end of any sporting event, professional or otherwise. Gotta beat the traffic was my Dad’s mantra. Brian McCann delivered a bottom of the ninth homerun to win it for the home team. Even victory had to wait; the umpires initially called it a double. Yet another classic case of “misdiagnosis”.

I think our kids are a lot like the game we witnessed that Sunday. Fighting an uphill battle, to a dwindling audience, achieving the unthinkable, only to be initially told that it does not count. Better check that re-play booth again ump, unlike Mr. McCann our kids hit a homer every day simply by living and recovering.

Is anyone there to watch it?

~Rickey Scarbrough

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