Every year that I see the success of BE night it truly brings a smile to my face and warm, fuzzy feeling to my heart. You see, I grew up one of those kids. My father left my family at a young age, my mother struggled to make ends meet for me and my sister. For more than a few years we shared a single family home with another mom and her son that were struggling. My possessions were few but I had a warm place to sleep and a loving family. I also had the Blazers. During my youth all the way up through my teenage years, all my best memories were camped in front of the TV in Blazers shirt (my 1990 WCF shirt being my "lucky" totem), Blazers shorts and a Blazers hat. All my Franz Blazers cards laid in front of me. During the early 90s the Blazers were winning a lot and these translated into a lot of happy times for me during a point which there wasn't a lot of other things in my life to be happy about.
At no point was I ever able to attend a game in person. My mom couldn't afford the tickets, or the time to go to a game. Other adults in my life were in the same situation. It wasn't something I was sad about, because it wasn't something I even considered was a possibility. Going to the VMC, or later the Rose Garden, was something that rich older people did. Something I wouldn't be able to do until I was an adult, and maybe not even then. People watched the games on TV and that was that. I was completely unable to make the connection that real, true people.. even ones around me at stores and school.. were at those games, cheering on the team in person. It was unfathomable.
Which is what makes BE night such a huge deal for me. If someone had given me, my mom and my sister an actual real ticket to an actual real Blazers game, I'm not sure what I would have done with myself. I think the right term is utter disbelief. I think the correct word might be "aneurysm." I can imagine being overwhelmed by the noise and proximity to my heroes. I can see myself unable to sleep the night before, like Christmas, and trying to pick out which of my favorite players was going to have a big night. I can picture myself on the way home from game, buzzing. I can envision laying in bed for hours after, going through moment after moment in my head. When I imagine 1000 kids going through all that it brings a tear to my eye. It truly does. I know you guys have a pretty good idea of what the night means to the kids you do this for. But I'm not sure you fully understand. Doing something like that would have made my entire YEAR.
As I grew up it started to dawn on me that attending games was not only possible, it was very realistic! Almost 20,000 people went to every game! I started going to games in my late teens and early 20s. At that point I was a little past the novelty it would have had for me as a child, but it was still eye-opening and wonderful. I vowed then that when I could finally afford it, I would have season tickets. Fast-forward to my late 20s, a few years out of college and finally making decent money I made the plunge. 5 years later and I've missed maybe 10 games tops since I first became a season ticket holder. I think back often about how unrealistic it was for me to consider seeing a game in person, and now seeing every game from the stands and it makes me appreciate the wins, losses and everything that comes along in a full season of NBA basketball.
And it doubly makes me appreciate the effort you guys go through to provide for those kids. Thank you and go Blazers!!!