November is the toughest month of the year for the Klug Family. In case you missed it on our "Who We Are" page, November has been filled with tragedy for us. Despite life knocking us down, we quickly realized that if you don't get up, things will only feel worse. You need to show happiness no matter how hard life gets. What's the first step of showing happiness? A smile. For us, we came up with the perfect term for smiling through our pain: we put on our November Smile.
Through the tragic losses our family has faced, we learned that even though life can be tough sometimes, there are always people that want to help out. Through the passing of our mom and dad, we received an unbelievable amount of support. The hundreds of text messages, phone calls, social media posts were incredible. Friends, family, and even complete strangers were nice enough to give us sympathy cards, gift cards, meals, and more. Knowing we had all of these people in our corner truly made everything easier on us.
In the spring of Matt's senior year, our story started to get more attention. Despite everything going on in his personal life, he decided to still play his senior year of baseball at Brookwood High School. The Gwinnett Daily Post, the local newspaper, heard about this story. They decided to write an article about him, and little did we know, that was the beginning of a crazy summer.
Matt's story became pretty popular, and he started receiving some incredible awards and honors. The first week of June, he won two awards named after Gino Vizzi, an amazing young man who started the P4Foundation to help children battling cancer. Matt was recognized at the Positive Athlete ceremony, being named the "most positive baseball player in the state of Georgia". The craziest part is that something even bigger happened in that first week of June.
The Chicago White Sox learned about Matt through that Gwinnett Daily Post article, and they wanted to do something special for him. They made the choice to draft him in the 38th round of June's MLB Draft, but his baseball ability didn't matter. He got drafted strictly because when life became rough, he kept his November Smile on.
It was extremely heartwarming to see the White Sox completely change Matt's life. The White Sox flew our family (Matt, Patrick, and Alicia) to Chicago in August to go through the clubhouse, meet the players, and watch a game. During this once-in-a-lifetime trip, we noticed something: we said "thank you" countless times, and almost every person on the other end said something along the lines of, "of course. Just pay it back."
Our trip to Chicago took place around the same time that we connected with the Zerbato Family, so it wasn't hard to decide how we would pay it back (learn more about how we helped their amazing family here). Once we helped them cheer up through tough times, we didn't want to stop there. Their reaction, their smiles, their thankfulness... They helped us realize how good it can feel to help other people, especially kids that we can relate to. It made us want to do this over and over again, so November Smiles was born.