Jan 30, 2014

#RoToTheTrop: Making Dreams Come True

The following article is a guest spot brought to us once again by Amanda, or MandaGator. To get in contact with or for more information from Amanda. Follow her on Twitter.

Ro or Raynaadi
Ro or @Raynaadi
Courtesy: @Raynaadi on Twitter
As a Navy brat in the 1970's we were stationed in the South China Sea on Okinawa for a number of years. Some military families refer to it as "stranded" not stationed, especially since that was prior to the internet or even cable television. There was one American broadcast TV station and one American broadcast radio station, both part of the American Armed Forces Network with limited on air hours. Phone calls were absurdly expensive so snail mail letters from family back home and magazines from the Commissary or PX were the primary methods of keeping "current" socially with our homeland.

For me, the beauty of the island, the culture of the people and being a kid with an inherently short attention span who had spent very little time actually in the USA, I didn't miss much about the states, to me we were stationed, not stranded. That is until we were sent for a short time to Fort Meade, Maryland where I had the good fortune of meeting Brooks Robinson at a gas station. I was in awe that THIS massive clod of a man was the same man my Dad and news announcers raved about being athletic!! Baseball became a lot more interesting to one little girl.

We soon returned to Okinawa for another tour. This time, there was something I missed about the states as baseball coverage was limited to a small box in the weekly newspaper & short clips on days old news broadcasts on the one American TV station. But, on the radio station, when the live broadcast ended at 11 pm, they aired recordings of MLB games and a schedule of games to be aired was published in the weekly newspaper.

Listening to Orioles baseball in the middle of the night on the only American broadcast radio station became a way of connecting to my family back on the mainland and of connecting to my father while stranded during our second tour on Okinawa. During usual operating hours I vied with his job, my Mom & 2 brothers for attention. During late night baseball though, it was just Dad & me, baseball fans!

There was great ritual as my Dad would pull out the headsets so we wouldn't wake sleeping family members. Pillows from the sofa were stuffed under our heads as we'd lay on the floor listening to weeks old games, silently screaming over amazing plays brought to life by a myriad of voices who were actually paid to watch baseball! We mutely laughed til our guts hurt over deep home runs we could only see in our minds. Thankful to have the connection, to each other, to our homeland, to a game. Not caring that we couldn't see the action, not caring that we couldn't WHOOOOOOOP it up aloud, we were especially thankful to the radio for bringing it to us.

Her name is Randi but you can call her Ro or @Raynaadi. She's never been to Okinawa and she hasn't met my Dad, but I'm sure they'd like each other. Actually I haven't technically met Ro yet either. We started talking over our mutual love of the Tampa Bay Rays on Twitter about four years ago. I learned that Ro doesn't watch, but listens to Rays games on 620 WDAE via modern technology I can't begin to fathom. The reason I can't begin to fathom the technology is because Ro went blind due to MS in 2008 so she uses audio software that, well, I can't even explain it but am in constant awe of Ro's capabilities with it.

Back to the point, Ro listens to Rays games. You'll need to read some of her blog to understand the impact this has on her life. Listening to the games allows her to go to the same places I got to visit as a child on Okinawa. I now make a point of turning off the TV a couple times a month, listening along with Ro on the radio and in doing so, blissfully regress to my childhood happy place.

Over the years we've chatted about our dreams, how much fun it is to go to Rays games here, or there, to follow them all summer, etc. Dreams because, in addition to limited disposable income, Ro hadn't done much traveling on her own. And over the years that changed, she went a little bit further, tested the water, got some things figured out. Suddenly the only thing limiting the Rays Opening Day dream Ro shared with a lot of her Twitter followers, was the fiscal issue.

Then word got out, #RoToTrop was born, donations started coming in, the Rays even donated a suite and my absolute favorite baseball memory ever happened, well, it will happen in late March. Ro will be coming to the dome for Opening Day thanks to the kindness and generosity of people who love baseball, who love Ro, who love life, who believe in dreams coming true. I can't help believe that a season starting with this much love and collective goodwill, will end on an equally glorious note!  Go Rays!

Thanks to huge hearts, air, hotel & game ticket costs have been raised or donated. If you would like to contribute towards keeping Ro nourished and perhaps a souvenir, you can donate directly to her via PayPal account using the email "raynaadi@gmail.com".

Ro's blog can be found here.

For another perspective of #RoToTrop, click here.


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