Good News Wednesday (8/14/19)

I need some good news.   What about you?  Here are a few things that will make you feel good about the world…

When Lori Ford arrived at Dow Diamond on Sunday afternoon, she was hoping to enjoy a Great Lakes Loons’ game and maybe get her mind off of pending hip surgery. And then it happened.

A couple of hours later, one swing of the bat brought tears to her eyes — and changed her life dramatically.

The Loons’ James Outman homered to rightfield with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning, making Ford the first-ever winner of the Miller Lite Grand Slam Inning, a promotion which the team has been running since 2013. Ford, whose name was randomly drawn on the day of the game to participate in the promotion, received a check in the amount of $5,000 courtesy of Miller Lite. And, as she pointed out in a voice steeped with excitement, the money will be put to good use.

Very good use.

“(Loons’ onfield host Ashley VanOchten) asked me what I would use the money for if I won, and I told her that I was having hip surgery next Monday, and that (prize money) would definitely help with medical bills,” said Ford, a resident of Mount Morris. “It’s one of those things where you have to put down a deposit (up front) or else they won’t do the surgery, so this is such a relief.

“I went (to Dow Diamond on Monday) and picked up the check, and I’ve already been able to pay some of the medical bills,” she added. “Everything is OK now. I’m going to get fixed up and get better.”

Loons’ Assistant General Manager Matt DeVries said he was thrilled that a person like Ford was the first to finally win the Grand Slam Inning.

“Anytime we do a promotion like this, we’re always hoping we can be lucky enough to draw the perfect contestant to be the winner,” DeVries said. “And we couldn’t have asked for a better winner than Lori. She was so excited and so enthusiastic, and considering her situation, with surgery coming up, to be able to help offset some of that cost is near and dear to our mission of helping the surrounding community.

“I was ecstatic (that she won),” he added, noting of the Grand Slam Inning promo, “It was a long time coming and long overdue. We’re in the seventh year of this promotion, and no one had ever won it before. We were all super thrilled that Lori was our first-ever winner.”

Ironically, Ford admitted that she almost didn’t even register to be in the drawing for the Grand Slam Inning. And even after her name was drawn, she had almost zero expectation of actually winning.

“I had taken my sister to a Loons’ game before, and we both put our names in, and she actually won the drawing (to be the Grand Slam Inning contestant),” Ford said with a chuckle. “This time, I didn’t (register) at first, but then I walked around for a little bit and finally thought, ‘Maybe I’ll put my name in again, and they’ll pick me by some odd chance.'”

Once the bottom of the sixth inning arrived, Ford noted, things got exciting very quickly.

“It went very fast. (Romer Cuadrado) hit a home run to start the inning, and then they had the bases loaded (afterward). I thought, ‘Well, I won’t win, but I’ll stand up and ring the bell and cheer for (Outman) anyway,'” Ford said. “But then Ashley (VanOchten) said to me, ‘You know, when (Outman’s) girlfriend and family are here, he always does so good. I think you’re going to win.'”

According to Ford, watching Outman’s homer sail over the rightfield wall was pretty surreal.

“The first pitch was a strike, and then he hit the second pitch, and my boyfriend said to me, ‘It’s going to go over the fence!’ And it did,” she said, the emotion in her voice continuing to build. “I started screaming and crying, and Ashley was jumping up and down next to me like a kangaroo. Everyone was so excited. They stopped playing (the game), and the players were all waving and clapping for me. It was so exciting.

” … (Winning) the money was wonderful, but the whole atmosphere was incredible,” she added. ” … It was just a wonderful thing, a great moment.”

DeVries said that he almost didn’t even get to see Outman’s homer. He was in a different part of the stadium coordinating a separate promotion when he heard that Outman was up with the bases loaded. Fortunately, he hurried back to field level just in time to witness history.

“Of course, James hits the second pitch (of the at-bat), and I was just running back up the tunnel (when he hit it),” DeVries said. “Our in-house video crew captured this funny image of me with this look on my face like, ‘Did this actually just happen?!’

“Luckily, Ashley and our video team were right there to capture the moment (with Ford),” he added. “There was a lot of hugging and jumping around and just absolute disbelief.”

Incredibly, the story only gets better from there.

According to Ford, a 10-year-old boy from Coleman, Landon Babcock, retrieved the home run ball and promptly delivered it to her without being prompted by his parents.

“That was so sweet. What a good little boy,” Ford enthused. “I said, ‘There’s a little man right there.’ He told me, ‘Good luck with your surgery.’ How many little kids say that?”

Landon’s mother, Becky Babcock, said that it didn’t take her son long to start thinking about Ford.

“He came back with the ball and sat down for a second and then said, ‘Mom, I wonder if that lady would like this ball,’ and I said, ‘Yes, she might,’ and so we went and found her,” Babcock said, adding of Ford’s reaction, ” … She was a little teary-eyed and just overjoyed. She was smiling and wanted to give Landon a hug. She was thankful and happy that he did that.”

Asked if she was a little surprised by her son’s decision, Babcock replied with a laugh, “Yeah, I was. I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I’m doing something right (as a parent).’ He’s got a soft heart, and it is pretty cool that he thought to do that.”

DeVries agreed that Babcock’s gesture was “special.”

“It speaks to the type of young man Landon is. Obviously, he’s been brought up the right way, and he did a lot for Lori that day,” DeVries said. “It makes a heartwarming story come full circle for a young man to have a thought like that.

“Very often, the young person is on the receiving end (of a home run ball), where an adult catches the ball and gives it to a young person and just makes their day,” he added. “But this time, Landon has that great memory, but so does Lori. And then James (Outman) gave Landon a signed bat, so the good times just kept on coming.”

Becky Babcock said that her son was “so excited” to be presented with a bat by Outman.

“He told me, ‘Mom, I wouldn’t have thought that any of this would happen when I gave (Ford) that ball,'” she said. “What he’s taking from this is that, when you do something nice for someone, sometimes people will do something nice for you.

“He’s ecstatic to have that bat,” she added. “I don’t know that he’s put it down yet.”

According to DeVries, Outman’s homer traveled around 380 feet and just barely cleared the rightfield wall in front of the scoreboard — not far, fittingly, from the Miller Lite sponsorship sign.

“We’ve had bases loaded at least a dozen times (during the Grand Slam Inning) in the past, and we had a ball hit the top of the wall (with bases loaded) last year,” he noted. “We’ve been very close (to having a winner), and this one finally cleared the fence.”

Ford said that she just might have had some help from above.

“My mom is (deceased), but she was a gambler. She liked to play Bingo and things like that. Before (Outman’s homer), I looked up and said, ‘Mom, if you hear me, maybe you could sprinkle some of your good luck dust on me,'” Ford said with another chuckle. “It was so exciting, and I just couldn’t believe it. I can’t get up and down real fast, but I think I jumped right out of my seat. It made me cry.”

Becky Babcock said that Sunday was a great day to be at the ballpark all the way around.

“Probably just the joy on people’s faces, especially (Ford’s) and Landon’s,” she said when asked what she’ll remember most about that day. “It’s just a nice environment down there (at Dow Diamond) anyway, but that (joy) made for a very special time for everyone.”

“I would dream of running around the yard playing tag with my dad, yet the reality is I could never do any of these things with my dad because I did not have the opportunity to know him,” said Demetrius Howard as he sat at the kitchen table reading a student’s story.

It’s a story Demetrius knows all too well.

“I seen that other people were going through some of the things that I was going through in life and it really humbled me to see that, and be able to help others,” said Demetrius.

When he was only three months old his father was shot and killed.

“I think growing up without a father could impact anyone’s childhood,” said the Newtown High School graduate. For months he has been preparing to present an award to a hard-working senior. With the help of his supporters, Demetrius will award an African American male student, who has lost their father to gun violence, with $1,000, a computer, and a printer.

“I hope he’s happy. I hope he’s very excited, as excited as I am,” said Demetrius.” I created this scholarship to help a victim who is striving against the statistical image of the minority youth.”

Several students submitted their stories in hopes of being chosen.

“Reading the letters, it was like wow, like there are so many other people who are faced with the same challenge,” said Demetrius’ mother Tamika Grahm.

That young man is Jayden Snip, who attends Newton High School just as Demetrius once did.

“To know someone in my community who walked the same halls as I did, it brings closure and lights to what I went through, and what I grew up with the, the obstacles I had to face as well,” said Jayden. He says the scholarship means a lot to him knowing he’s not the only one who went through a similar experience.

As for Demetrius, he plans on raising money for next year. Always hoping that somewhere his father is proud.

“Knowing that my father was looking at my every action, that’s what motivated me to stay on the right track,” said Demetrius.

It’s not often that banks are praised for their compassion, but Canadian credit card holders are rejoicing over their bank’s recent decision to forgive all outstanding debt on two of their old Visa programs.

After spending a little over a decade in the Canadian credit card market, US-based Chase Bank opted to retire their Rewards Visa and their Marriott Rewards Premier Visa in March 2018.

As of last week, there were still Canadian cardholders who were making payments on their outstanding card debt—but Chase, rather than selling the debt to third party-collectors, sent letters to all of their Canadian customers this week explaining that their debt had been forgiven.

“Ultimately, we felt it was a better decision for all parties, particularly our customers,” Chase spokesperson Maria Martinez said in an email to CBC.

Despite how financial analysts have been confused by the bank’s decision to forgive the debt, Canadian customers are still in disbelief over their good fortune.

“Its crazy,” one customer told the Canadian news outlet. “This stuff doesn’t happen with credit cards. Credit cards are horror stories.”

Though Chase declined to say how much debt had collectively been wiped out by their decision, their former Amazon credit card boasted a 19.9% interest rate—and some Canadian cardholders told CBC that they had been forgiven for as much as $6,000 in debt.

“I was sort of over the moon all last night, with a smile on my face,” another consumer told CBC. “I couldn’t believe it.”

5 Tips on How to Make Every Day a Good Day

  1. Exercise first thing in the morning.
  2. Eat well.
  3. Dress well.
  4. Avoid situations that stress you out.
  5. Do something nice for yourself.


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