LYMAN, Maine — The Boston Red Sox season doesn’t start until April 1, but three players began a road trip at the Briarwood Children’s House in Lyman on Tuesday morning.
Pitchers Mark Melancon and Chris Carpenter, and outfielder Ryan Kalish, made an appearance at the facility as part of the Red Sox “Holiday Road Trip.” The venture consists of six stops during two days, but the journey to Lyman was first on the itinerary. The three players and Red Sox mascot, Wally the Green Monster, stopped by to visit with children in the “Hear ME Now” program at Briarwood and other preschools throughout the state. The program helps deaf and hearing-impaired children.
The players seemed to get just as much out of the visit as the children and their parents, noting that it really opened their eyes to how lucky they are.
“It’s always a great feeling coming out here and meeting people, and just seeing the other side of things. Kids that are less fortunate, can’t hear like everyone else, like you and I. It’s fun to come out here and see that,” said Carpenter.
“It’s appreciation,” said Kalish. “I’ve been blessed and been fortunate to just not have any problems growing up. It makes every day a lot easier for me to see how happy these kids are, with a little bit less.”
For Melancon, it made him appreciate having a healthy child, he said.
“My wife and I cringe when we have to take our daughter to get shots, and that lasts for a millisecond. So talking to these parents, and understanding what they went through, must have been heartbreaking,” he said.
The players said they genuinely enjoy making appearances like the one at Briarwood.
“I love coming out here,” said Carpenter. “It’s nice that you don’t have the stress of baseball, and you can just come out and you get to appreciate things. Meet with kids, and meet with fans, and their parents, and everything like that. It’s a good time.”
Of course the children enjoyed themselves, too, getting to meet professional baseball players on a cold day in late November.
“It’s fantastic to see them. It’s really good for me to see them, because I’ve never seen them before,” said 8-year-old Kyle Landry of Gorham.
Taylor Daigle, 8, of Scarborough said “it was great.” Taylor was eager to show off the autographs that he got from the players and from Wally.
Taylor and Kyle have already gone through the Hear ME Now program, but returned to see some players from their favorite baseball team, even if David “Big Papi” Ortiz wasn’t among them. Kyle said the visit was also good for the younger children who are still going through the program.
“It means a lot for these kids to see them. When [the players] walked in, the kids were like cheering a lot for them,” he said.
For Pam Dawson, executive director of Hear ME Now, having the players visit was all about spreading the word about educating deaf and hearing-impaired children.
“I think there’s a lot of awareness that takes place on a day like today,” said Dawson.
Seeing how the players engaged the children and their parents, it appears that they got the message.
“It just gives you an appreciation for life, really,” Kalish said.
Carpenter called it “refreshing … just seeing smiles that go on their face when you just walk into a room, and you don’t even have to say anything.”