There are lots of benefits to having only 13 students. I know we will look back and laugh at the crazy things we were able to do because we are such a small crew. For instance, the buddies love the Royals. Before the Wildcard game we were able to spontaneously head to the Plaza for a pre-game rally. We were the stars of the show. The drum line let our scholars take over and play their drums. The cheerleaders learned some new dance moves from us. The man on stilts acted like he was our biggest fan. I think the kids kinda think that they are the Royals and the party was for them. So now every time we see the KC logo, pass the blue fountains or see a fan wearing a Royals shirt they erupt into the “let’s go Royals” chant.
They have no idea what the World Series is, I would venture to say most of them have no idea what baseball even is. The heartbreak of losing didn’t effect them, they are the truest most loyal types of fans. The type of fans who see themselves as part of the story. The type of fans who are proud to wear blue regardless of the outcome of the game. For them the Royals aren’t just a baseball team, the Royals are a hope that there is something to be celebrated right here in our city. And so despite the gut wrenching loss in game 7, we again spontaneously loaded up the bus, headed to the K and celebrated the Royals. I was giddy with excitement.
Something about baseball stadiums makes me feel really reflective. I think it’s because my very first dream was to be a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. It was the first dream I put any effort into attaining. So sitting at a big league park kind of takes me back to the glory days where dreams had no limits. Growing up makes dreaming so much more messy.
It’s the mess of the dream of UCA that got me all emotional. There are 13 kids who have walked through some of the most daunting moments of my life with me. They were there when I drove the bus route for the first time. They were there to eat the first meal I cooked as a lunch lady. They were there on the day I screwed up the insurance paperwork and on the day we ran out of toilet paper. They were there on the bus when hot tears of fear filled my eyes because I felt overwhelmed by raising enough money to sustain this thing. In the moments when I feel small and inadequate they restlessly affirm who I am. When I burn the ravioli they forgive me. They have seen me at my worst and they still want to hold my hand as we walk and hug me and sit by me and they haven’t even once mentioned giving up on me.
Not only have they been there in the mess but they’ve been there in the happiest moments too.They were there when the new UCA sign came in. They were there the day we moved into the building. They were there they day my parents came for the first time. When I feel like dancing for joy they dance with me. When I make tight turns in the bus they cheer. They thank me for teaching them about Jesus.
As we were sitting at the K and I had several kids all clinging to me yelling at the top of their lungs for a team that plays a sport they have never seen I fell deeper in love with my job. It seems so unreal that I get to live a dream alongside 13 kids who are so good at loving me. It reminded me that dreams are worth chasing and that these kids are special. As wildly as they cheer for the Royals, they cheer for me. I can’t imagine having a better fan club to live everyday life with.
But it begs the question, who is wildly cheering for them? Who is there relentlessly advocating for them? Who makes them feel so special? Who is praying for them? Then I remember you, the UCA fan club. The people who give up 10 minutes of your day to catch up with our story and pray for the work God is doing here. You hold us up when we feel weak. You support us financially and with your time and resources and prayers. You are their fan club. I wish you could come everyday and remind them of that…we do our best to remind them that you're there, praying and caring and cheering them on. Maybe someday if you have a few hours you can come tell them yourself. But please know that your presence is felt and we are so thankful for you.