First and foremost, I must thank the organizers, sponsors and all of the wonderful people that played, volunteered, watched, laughed, and enjoyed the Father Christmas Cup back on December 10. Yeah, I know this is long overdue, but it literally took me a week to walk normally again, and I didn’t even play that much!
If you don’t already know, I was informed about this event from a friend of Glen and I’s, Ryan Carter, from high school. He called me up a few days after finding out about Glen’s passing and wanted to do whatever he could to help Sandra and the kids. He knew a few of the organizers from the team he plays on, and asked if Sandra and the kids could be one of the families that receive some of the contributions. After they read the blog and had an understanding of who Glen was, and the impact that he had on not only his family, but also so many friends, they knew that they could be a huge part of Sandra and the kid’s immediate future. Ryan called me asking if it was okay to be a part of it and I was going to be a part of it in any way even if Sandra wasn’t a beneficiary of the cause.
As I mentioned previously, I had been taking a break from all sporting activities due to school and cold weather. The tournament layout was scheduled for 3 games, and a 4th if we made it to the finals. My body doesn’t function and move very well in weather below 65 degrees, I blame my parents and their Caribbean blood, so I figured that I might be able to get one half in before my hamstrings tore and I had to sit out the rest of the afternoon. The team that Ryan was able to get me on was in the Competitive Division, and consisted of some of Ryan’s current teammates and people that knew Glen from soccer, work, and growing up with us. It was good to see a lot of faces that I haven’t seen in a while ranging from months to decades, before the accident. After catching up with them for a while it was great to find out that we had 18 people on the team, which means we had 10 subs, and also that I didn’t have to play too much and enjoy the event and the people even more. In the first game, played for about 5 minutes and had to sub off because I almost pulled a muscle and my lung were burning so hard that I might coughed up a lung on the sidelines. When I subbed off, I saw a few of the many family and friends that came out to support me and the cause that day. Like everyone through this whole experience, it was great and invigorating, to talk laugh, and remember the impact Glen had on our lives.
The team that I played with had some high quality players, both younger and older than me, and was happy to know that we had a good chance to win the whole thing. After tying the first game, we breezed through the next 2 games to be the top seed in our group and play in the finals. In between though the event took a break to remember the young men and the families the cause was raising money for. Sandra, Sandra’s parents, Aunt Margot, and the kids came by earlier to join the growing crowd of friends and family. It was one of her first outings out of the house since the funeral, and the organizers took great care of her and the tribute to Glen and the other family affected by their loss. After the moment of silence and tribute, the games resumed and we faced the other top team in the tournament. Up until this point, I didn’t have to do much and was there for the cause, but my competitive juices started flowing knowing that we had a chance to win the whole thing, and do it for Glen. The team we played was really good and had a lot of close chances going just wide or making our keeper make some incredible saves. Eventually, they were able to break through and take the lead and going into the final 20 minutes of the game. I want to say that I had a huge impact on the team throughout the tournament, other than a frivolous goal and a few assists in the previous big wins, all I was seriously able to provide was some speed, beer, and conversation. The 1-0 lead held up for most of the game and with 5 minutes left the team thought that my speed would help and wanted me to go in. I was more than willing to see what I could do knowing that Glen was beside me. Amazingly, within a minute of me being on the field we scored the equalizer, and another 2 minutes got the go ahead goal. I want to say that I came on the field and scored or assisted, but I literally ran up and down the field barely touching the ball. When the whistle blew I was so excited, happy and proud, but still a bit sad knowing that Glen wasn’t here physically with me to enjoy something we both loved so much.
I stayed a bit longer to watch the raffle, enjoy some more beer, and talk to some reconnected and new friends. It was good to hear a few of their stories of their own personal losses, and how they have found the strength to not really move on, but be able to live with tragedies that pain the heart so deeply. I was encouraged and impressed with them and proud to know that I have people that has experienced this kind of loss and worse, and be able to live to honor them and continue to carry on their legacy.
The Father Christmas Cup is such an AMAZING event and cause that the founders have created is something that I am so proud to be a part of this year and in the future by playing or volunteering. This year’s event was the biggest to date and at least twice the size of last years’. Hopefully it will continue to grow for many years and help other families during the difficult holiday season. To all of the generous people that donated their time, money, prayers and support, I and the rest of the Walkers/Meekers couldn’t thank you enough. Check out the website and facebook page for pictures and other info.
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