~ Let's go ROCKY Let's go ~

You know, I didn't always have a reason to be proud.  And there were some scary times along the way that make moments like this all the sweeter.

I think you all know the story by now, here are the cliff notes, I'll spare you the sad pictures:

Rocky was born with a blood clot in his brain, he was having seizures after he was born and had a stroke when he was 3 days old.  His seizures were so violent they put him into a medically induced coma just to buy the doctors time to figure out what was wrong. 

All the seizures deprived his brain of oxygen and his neurologist had a very serious conversation with his Dad and I about extensive brain damage.  While his early MRI results were optimistic, we wouldn't know for sure until Rocky showed us.   The doctor said to take it "milestone by milestone" and see what happened.  

Well, Rocky missed every single milestone he was suppose to hit.   He didn't sit up until he was 8 months old, he didn't crawl until he was 11 months old, he didn't even try to walk until he was 16 months old.  We avoided our pediatrician like the plague knowing he was going to question every late development and want to run a billion tests.

But then we started noticing how well his gross motor skills were, especially if it involved a ball, any kind of ball, soccer ball, baseball, basketball.  It was like a ray of light for us at a very dark time.  It gave us hope that while he couldn't keep up with the other kids who were talking in full sentences or holding a crayon correctly it was a clear sign that something inside his little brain was processing properly. 

The kid didn't learn how to walk until he was 16 months old, but at 18 months he could dribble a soccer ball across a field at a full sprint and never lose it from his feet.  It was amazing.

Rocky is a natural athlete.  We are all given gifts in this life and we can take them or leave them.  I can't play a musical instrument to save my life, and I'll never know what it's like to be a really good singer.  Rocky might not be valedictorian of his class, or ever win a spelling bee, but the kid can knock the stitches off a baseball.

                                                                   (Baby Rocky in a baseball outfit, maybe a premonition he would love baseball?)

This month his school is participating in "Homers for Health" with the St. Louis Cardinals.  A fundraiser for Cardinal Glennon (Ironically the same hospital he was at when he was sick) - hosted by David Freese and Matt Holiday.

Rocky made it though the preliminary rounds by hitting the most home runs in his grade, but then he had to go to the finals and compete against the best kids from other grades.  

I was able to sneak up to his school with the girls and watch the final rounds.

I was nervous for him, I know he has the talent but every batter hits a slump from time to time, some of the kids he was against were older and bigger, and the whole freaking school was watching, plus teachers and parents, I knew he was nervous, mommy was too. 

Rocky stepped up to the plate, I held my breathe, and he hit that ball like it was his job. 

He was awesome, 8 out of 10 home runs.  I wasn't even going to try and hide my smile.  I was so proud.

Only one hitter from his level (Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade) would  advance to the champoinshops and here were the results.

I didn't video tape him hitting, I thought it would jinx him, plus I was a little busy juggling a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  Even though he hit the most home-runs he also needed money raised from fundraising so he wasn't sure if he won until they announced it.

After the derby one of the parents came up to congratulate me and asked "Wow, he did awesome, how long has he been practicing for this?"  - I smiled and said, "Since he was 2" 

Next, he gets pulled out of school on May 22nd  to represent his school at the championships in Forrest Park with MATT HOLIDAY and DAVID FREESE!   He will compete against the winners of other schools.   Holy Cow we are excited.  I don't know if he is more excited to see Matt and David, or that he is getting to miss school.

I am so proud, not just of Rocky but of all the kids at his school.  It takes alot of courage to get up in front of your whole school, there were some really great kids in the competition.  I am thankful to Rockys wonderful school for taking part in such a fun activity for the kids, and of course the St. Louis Cardinals and Cardinal Glennon for always giving back to the kids. 

Next time you hear a mommy worried sick that her baby isn't hitting their milestones on time please remind them Rocky Manno.

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