By: Josh Jackson
Ed. Note: The 10-for-10 series is a chance for us at the Grizzlies to celebrate 10 years in Downtown Fresno by thanking 10 of our great fans. If you know a deserving fan who has helped support Grizzlies baseball that you would like to nominate, simply email us at email@example.com.
Most of us take the simple things in life that bring us joy for granted. Walking to school in the morning, driving to work, or even going to a baseball game can seem fairly ordinary. However, the challenges of daily life become much more rigorous, and simple joys are harder to take advantage of when a person does not have their health. So when the opportunity presents itself to enrich this person’s life with strength, hope and joy, those who are fortunate must take advantage of it.
Vincent Arellano is a young boy who suffers from Sanfilippo Syndrome, a metabolism disorder that is passed down through families. People with this disease are unable to break down certain chains of sugar molecules. There are four types of Sanfilippo Syndrome. Vincent has type B (MPS III B), which damages the barrier responsible for protecting the brain from harmful substances in the blood. Over time, this compromises the functionality of the brain, disabling basic functions like speech, motor skills and decision-making. The life expectancy for a child with Sanfilippo Syndrome is only 12-20 years. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for this disease.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a wish-granting organization for children with life-threatening illnesses, reached out to Vincent. When asked what he wanted as his wish, Vincent asked to meet his favorite mascot, Parker. When the Grizzlies found out about this, the organization thought it would be a great opportunity to help Vincent and his family have a remarkable experience down at Chukchansi Park. When informed about the situation by Grizzlies executives, Parker was more than thrilled to be able to hang out with one of his biggest fans for a game. Anybody who knows Parker is aware of how much he loves his fans. The Grizzlies organization, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Parker himself, were excited about the opportunity to give Vincent an extraordinary day!
Saturday, July 23rd, was set to be Vincent’s big day at Chukchansi Park to watch the Grizzlies and meet Parker for the first time. He arrived in style, as a stretched limo dropped Vincent off in front of the ticket office with the rest of his family. Once Parker saw the limousine pulling up out front, he pounced his way through the pregame crowd on the sidewalk and jumped onto the hood of the limo in excitement. Vincent was equally excited to meet his new friend. Parker greeted Vincent with a big bear hug and also handed Vincent a baseball and a Mascot baseball card, both signed by Parker. The look on Vincent’s face told the whole story to everyone who was watching.
Parker and the Arellano family went up to their suite on the third floor so Vincent and his new furry friend could hang out before game time. The family laughed the whole way. Vincent seemed excited to see his name on the tag outside the suite, but he didn’t know how to take the news he was about to receive. The hardest working bear in all of Minor League Baseball invited Vincent down on the field for some of the pregame activities. He also asked Vincent to throw out the first pitch!
Once Vincent was escorted down onto the field with his family, everyone could see how overwhelmed he was with emotion. Parker went through his regular pregame routine, but this day was different, as he had Vincent by his side to join in on the fun in front of the Grizzlies dugout.
When it came time for the ceremonial first pitch, Vincent approached the mound, escorted by his mother. He was hesitant at first, seemingly nervous as he stood very close to his mother, reluctant to throw the ball to the catcher behind home plate. Being the loyal friend that Parker is known to be, he ran over to the mound to give support to his new buddy. Vincent took one look at his furry friend standing by his side, and hurled the baseball towards home plate with confidence. The courageous young boy got the recognition he deserved from the crowd. Vincent walked off the field with a big, contagious smile on his face, receiving high fives and slaps on the back from some of the Grizzlies players standing by.
The Arellano family went back up to their suite with Vincent to enjoy the rest of the day’s festivities. A whole baseball game had yet to be played, but a wish had already been fulfilled for a brave young boy. Not only did he get to meet his favorite mascot, but he got to take part in Parker’s daily routine as well. Considering that Vincent has to live a life full of challenges, the Fresno Grizzlies and the Make-A-Wish Foundation were thrilled to give Vincent and his family a day in which they would never forget.
Maybe you were at the ballpark that day. Perhaps you were sitting down in your seats as the ceremonial first pitches were taking place. You probably did not even notice anything special going on before the game. What may have been an ordinary day for you or me was a day that enriched the human experience of a young boy named Vincent.