19 June 2013
When I look back on growing up, I look fondly upon those times. I remember countless activities I used to take head on, often excelling at them whether mentally or physically. Back then, I didn’t realize that this wasn’t the case for everybody. I didn’t realize that children like Jack Doran could’ve had heart surgery 3 times before the age of 3––at 6 months, 1.5-years old and 2.5-years old. I didn’t realize that when most teens got the keys to their first car at age 16 that somebody like Louis Cumming got osteosarcoma instead. It wasn’t until I myself was exposed to the loss of my own sister that I began to notice loss around me. However, the habit of despair is worse than despair itself. I found that a little bit of hope goes a long way.
It is never worth giving up hope, but sometimes we need it from other people, even in the smallest of ways. One of those small ways fell into my hands as I got 4 tickets to the World Cup qualifiers game as part of the Best Jobs competition. With only an elementary interest in soccer, I felt bad for possessing something so coveted by others. Shuffling through celebrity possibilities and even calling some of the richest men in Australia, all these ideas felt terrible. I decided that I wanted to not just give these tickets away; I wanted to give.
The challenge finally had a bigger purpose and I was flooded with motivation. Some emails, DM’s and phoning later, a call on the runway going to Sydney was with Prue from Make-A-Wish expressing interest in the game. I didn’t realize how excited that I would be. The feeling was overwhelming. I decided right then that no matter what happened on the trip that it was already a success. Even though talks with Sydney FC, the Wanderers and the FFA couldn’t turn anyone up for the game for the last ticket, serendipity said different. To my complete surprise, the Socceroos lined the lobby of the Intercontinental Sydney and I knew it was worth requesting a video welcome to the game for Jack and Louis. Minutes before leaving for the game, Football Federation Australia finally called back and offered to donate flags and balls as well. When I thought I had to give up on the last ticket, a stubborn request and persistent calls added 2 special things I could give to the kids beyond just the tickets.
The game itself was wonderful. Jack was so close to the field that he could physically see Lucas Neill’s face, his favorite player. Jack’s older brother Harry was there to cheer with him and talk about the game’s technicalities that I don’t understand. Even though his big wish is to go to Hamilton Island, Louis watched intently as he hoped more than anything that Australia would be on the way to Rio––his wish for the day. Needing to leave at the 85-minute mark for a ride home from his parents, Louis and I fretted that the 0-0 score might stay. But at 83 minutes, the crowd erupted as a sweet goal was scored by the Socceroos with hardly enough time to allow Iraq to recover. Louis left to catch his ride but knew his team had already won. In fact, we all knew we won that night. Day 7 wasn’t a challenge, it was an honor.