Jake Ballard of the New York Giants is grabbed by Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 9, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Seahawks defeated the Giants 36-25. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Before the 2012 NFL Draft got underway and before the New York Mets defeated Jose Reyes and the Miami Marlins in a ninth-inning nail-biter yesterday, some modern-day heroes took over Citi Field to share their experience, strength and hope with children from TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors), the Wheelchair Sports Federation(WSF) and the United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) in the first Citi Field Kids event of the 2012 season.
Jake Ballard, tight end for the New York Giants, Kari Miller, 2008 Paralympic Games silver medalist in Women's Sitting Volleyball and SNY Anchor and Master Of Ceremonies for Citi Field Kids, Michelle Yu, were on hand to lead by example. Read on.
Citi Field Kids is now in its fourth season. It is an educational and motivational community-based initiative for new York City middle and high school students developed by Citi in collaboration with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, The Mets and various community-based organizations. Citi Field Kids was launched April 15, 2009, in conjunction with Major League Baseball's annual Jackie Robinson Day. The series on in-season events has sought to positively impact students through the nine values and ideals of that Jackie Robinson embodied - courage, integrity, determination, persistence, citizenship, justice, commitment, teamwork and excellence.
SNY anchor, Michelle Yu has certainly come a long way and serves as a power of example for the Citi Field Kids. This was glaringly obvious when I spoke with her yesterday:
"I'm really glad to be a part of it considering I am a CitiKid too. This is why this event is so special to me. I grew up in the Bronx and so I know what these kids go through. Diversity and location is sometimes an uphill battle. It is my honor and my pleasure to be a role model for them.
I feel a connection to these kids. I feel I relate to each and every one of them. I know that each and every one of them has a dream, just like we all do. Sometimes people discourage you. Sometimes people try to doubt you. My message to these kids is just take a look at me. I was you many years ago. If you want to do something that you dream of doing, it's cheesy to say, it's cliche, but it's definitely a possibility and I am a walking example. That's why this event is so important and significant to me.
I think each and every one of us, including me, we walk away from an event like this and we feel inspired no matter how old we are, whether we're five or thirty-five."
New York Giants' Jake Ballard was also quite taken by the event:
"The New York Mets and CitiField wanted to show their appreciation to the kids who have had some difficulties throughout their life; have them come here and listen to a few inspirational stories from some of these great people. We just wanted to have them come out here and have a good day at the ballpark. It's really cool giving back to the kids.
We had a Paralympian (Kari MIller) and myself, we told them our stories and just tried to give them the message that if you chase your dreams anything is possible."
Of course, I did manage to talk about football and the status of Jake's injury with him at Citi Field yesterday. Jake had this to say:
"I'm definitely going to be on the PUP List. I won't be ready for training camp or the beginning of the season."
Jake and I spoke for awhile and more in-depth. However, if you want to catch the rest of that interview you will have to wait for the next edition of BBV TV.
All-in-all, it was an incredibly inspiring day at Citi Field. The message delivered by these living examples was well received and even the Mets were able to take something away from them, defeating the Marlins in clutch ninth-inning style, 3-2.