Last year, Greg created the Samson League Pre-season Event. He found a sport celebrity agent and hired Tony Fernandez to come and speak, then sold tickets at local stores, through the churches, etc, and everything from the private VIP dinner to the meet and greet afterward went smoothly. Actually, I blogged it so you can read about it here.
This year, he did it again, and this time he hired Jesse Barfield. As well as last year went, you could tell from the beginning that this year was going to be different because Jesse had such personality. He arrived early and shot the breeze with Greg, joking around and talking to him like they’d been friends for years. Throughout the catered VIP dinner, he took time to talk to the caterers and thank them for their hard work, and allowed them to take his picture. He got along with everyone and let everybody try on his home-run ring, a huge diamond studded chunk of gold that fit better in the palm of my hand rather than on my finger. He and his brother-in-law Marshall were so nice to everyone, and just seeing how easy going they were made everyone feel less nervous about the evening ahead.
Jesse gave a good talk, and the question and answer period went on for almost an hour afterwards! After that he went with Greg to the table set up for him for photo’s and autographs, but not before Greg took him to see the cake I made, and Jesse had his picture taken with it :). Can you believe it?! One of my cakes was photographed with a real celebrity! I have to say too – that as much of a celebrity he is, he is a really wonderful Christian. We found out after the night was over, that a couple asked him to sign an autograph for their son who was sick. Jesse immediately took that opportunity to pray with them, and then wrote a personal note to their kid. In fact, there are quite a few people who are saying they had a personal moment with them and how much that meant.
Now, thats my take on everything I saw – I was pretty busy too. I helped organize the caterers (same ones from our wedding!), ran last minute errands as needed, helped collect the tickets, and pretty much just hovered the entire evening waiting to see where I was needed. The church that hosted the event did a phenomenal job, we had the AWANA missionary as our charity and he gave a great 10 minute talk at the beginning, and of course, Greg did a fantastic job organizing the whole event. Watching him joke around with Jesse Barfield and his brother, and walking around making sure everyone was having a good time and that all the behind the scenes things were running smoothly… well, I dont think I can be prouder of him :). I’ve never met anyone who could set a goal and go after it with so much determination… and yet when the whole thing was getting started he was the one standing back in the shadows of the auditorium, keeping out of sight. What a guy :).
I dont know what the pre-season event next year will hold, but as I write this there are 3 messages sitting in Greg and I’s email box. All of them are from Jesse Barfield, and after the phone call Jesse made to Greg at work yesterday, and the personal invite we now have to visit he and his wife if we’re ever in Houston, I’d say they’re on their way to being long distance buddies.