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SMOOV CLASSIC: A Night of HOPE
For the first-time readers of the blog — and any readers who just love reading my stuff — I bring to you the second of two blog posts that I thoroughly enjoyed putting together and am most proud of posting. This one, from 8/18/2010, centers around the amazing story of HOPE Week honoree Jane Lang and her impact on my experiences at Yankee Stadium :
There have been many occurrences in my life that have made me happy, but very few have brought me pure, authentic joy. Graduating high school, the 2009 Yankees and the Giants winning the Super Bowl to end the Patriots’ bid for a perfect season would be the three that stick out in my mind the most.
You can add Tuesday night’s game to that list.
Yes, CC Sabathia had another effective start to improve his case for Cy Young. Yes, the offense woke up after a two-day slide to beat Justin Verlander and the Tigers. Yes, Nick Swisher used a New York hip-hop classic for his walk-up music. But there’s a better reason why Tuesday night ranks among my favorites at Yankee Stadium:
I got to see the Yankees honor a woman who has made my experiences as an usher/security officer worthwhile.
For those who don’t know, HOPE Week was started last season as a way of recognizing, via Yankees.com, “remarkable stories to provide hope and encouragement to the recipient of the gesture and inspire individuals into action in their own communities.” On Tuesday night it was Morris Plains, NJ, native and Yankees die-hard fan Jane Lang who was being honored for her determination to not let the fact that she was born blind keep her from having a positive outlook on life — and the Yankees in particular.
Jane often refers to Yankee Stadium as her second home, one of the few places outside of her Morris Plains home where she feels safe. Fans and staff alike have become part of her extended Yankee family. Learning the game of baseball from her father using checkers, Jane has perfected her travel from Morris Plains to the Stadium with the help of her guide dog, Clipper. It starts with a 20-minute walk to the local NJ Transit station, followed by a 70-minute ride into Penn Station. From there, it is a short walk to the D train at Herald Square for a 30-minute ride to the Bronx and her sanctuary on 161st Street & River Avenue. Using eight pieces of candy, she moves the candy from one pocket to the other at each train stop. One candy left means Yankee Stadium is next. This commute is tough of any ABLE-BODIED individual, and Jane goes through it like clockwork. Simply remarkable.
What makes Jane’s story even more amazing is her sunny personality. Seeing her smile can only make you smile. Even when you may be going through rough times, Jane can say one thing that will put the biggest smile on your face and temporarily make you forget your troubles. In many ways she reminds me of my late great-grandmother — the sweetest lady you will ever met who would give anything to see others around her happy.
“It’s not how much you can gather, it’s how much you give,” she told Tim Britton of MLB.com.
If that quote doesn’t embody HOPE Week, I don’t know what does.
As I said in the beginning of this post, it takes something really special to bring my pure, authentic joy. Seeing Jane’s family and friends cheering her as she took part in the pre-game ceremonies as well as rounding the bases with Joe Girardi’s assistance after the game truly warmed my heart. It was great to see someone I care about get the recognition she deserves … even if she doesn’t think she deserve it.
Thank you, Jane Lang, for making these last two seasons so much fun for me. Even though you may not think so, you deserve every bit of the recognition you got Tuesday night.