For two introverted people like myself and Matt, getting on an airplane to fly 1,000 miles away, to a state we know nothing about, to meet a family we have only spoken to over messages may seem a little crazy right? Well part of what makes what we do so special to us is meeting every family that we help. When we would reflect on every family that we have helped so far, what always stuck out the most was "I really wish we could meet the Zerbato family." After saying this for 8 months, we decided to make this a reality and head up to Pittsfield, MA to surprise this wonderful family.
We had this beautiful plan in place, we had it all mapped out in our head, and even down on paper.... Then of course, plans changed many times. Without the help of Aunt Jessica Zerbato, this would not have been possible! Our plan of surprising Sherry, Zack and Cam at once changed many times, and we ended up surprising each of them separately!
Saturday, June 1st: We landed and headed to our hotel in Pittsfield. Yes, plans were still changing thanks to mother nature! Jessica's son Mario had a game that night, and Jessica told Sherry she had to come to the game. Sherry questioned why, but Jessica was a steel trap! About 7:30 PM, we showed up to Mario's game, walked around the field staying hidden as much as possible, and walked up behind where they were sitting. Matt tapped Sherry on the shoulder, she turned around, and she lost it. She jumped up, hugged both of us, and tears started flowing. She kept asking what we were doing there, and we told her we were in the area and decided to swing by. After the laughter stopped, we told her the real reason is because we wanted to surprise them and meet the family. Surprise 1 was a success! Although we got soaked running to the car in the rain, it was well worth it!
Sunday, June 2nd: Thanks again to mother nature, plans continued to change. We were supposed to have lunch with Sherry and Cam. Cam had baseball games at 3:00 and 5:00. These games ended up being canceled last minute, and Cam instead had practice that was right when were were supposed to have lunch. Sherry dropped Cam at practice, and the three of us had lunch. After lunch, we went to the field Cam was practicing on and watched the rest of his practice. We told Sherry we wanted to just walk to their car with them and see if Cam would recognize us. After almost a minute of walking, Cam hadn't even looked at us. He said to Sherry "Mom, do I HAVE to go to Zack's game?" I looked at him and was like "man you don't want to hang out with us?!" He looked over and his eyes lit up and he smiled. He gave me a big hug and also gave Matt a big hug. Suddenly he didn't seem to mind as much that he had to go to Zack's game. Cam is a quiet, shy, reserved young man so the smile on his face was a smile that will always be special to us.
Fast forward an hour. Zack has his final regular season high school game vs. their arch rival. At this point Zack still has no idea we were there; he was too busy with baseball to have any idea. We decided to surprise him after his game as we wanted this to feel like a normal game to him. In the third inning, mother nature decided to rear her ugly head yet again and in rolled a torrential downpour. Everyone ran for shelter, most of which was found in their cars. The game was canceled and we headed back to the Zerbato's house to wait on Zack... One final surprise was still pending. We beat Zack home and we heard him walk in. Sherry told Zack to come into the living room. When he walked in he immediately recognized Matt. He gave us both a big hug and we all just sat there, talked, and played with their Goldendoodle Max. We managed to deliver one more surprise while we were there... We got Max a toy that he absolutely loved. We went in the driveway and played some basketball, and played lawn darts in the back yard (ah-hem, I am still undefeated at lawn darts).
The way we topped off our last night in Pittsfield could not have been more perfect. A family friend and her husband opened their home up to a large group of people to have a huge cook out! There were probably 30 people at this cookout. 30 strangers to us who treated us like family. We shared a meal, lots of stories, and lots of laughs. We got to know a large part of the Zerbato family, and even their close friends who are basically extended family. Sherry, Zack and Cam were smiling the whole time and having a great time. Our mission was accomplished. Zack is finishing up his senior year of high school, his senior season of baseball, his father's birthday, and is approaching graduation... All without his hero around. We wanted to step in and help bring more smiles to their faces during a very difficult time.
We also learned that we impacted this family more than we could ever imagine. The number of hugs and thank yous we received was extremely heartwarming. Not long after we left, Sherry was messaging us telling us that her friends noticed how happy her boys were, and said they haven't seen the boys that happy in a long time. Also not long after we left, Zack asked when they could come down here to visit us in Atlanta!
Mission accomplished. To think.... All of this started because of one of the most viral sports photos of 2018... A bio shown on ESPN during the Little League World Series. Because of this bio, we now have family in The Berkshires. A family that showed us love, gratitude, and helped us make memories that we will never forget. This is why we do what we do.