Friday, March 14, 2008

One of a kind Ravens' fan gives meaning to St. Patty's Day

If you are lucky enough, every now and then in life you will meet a kind and selfless person -- one who is good to the core and prefers to give rather than receive, praise rather than be praised.

Their humility and unpretentious ways are inspiring and they leave you wondering why you aren't more like them and why there aren't more of their type in the world.

Fortunately I know a person like that and his Irish Heritage and annual traditions that he enthusiastically participates in at this time of year places him in the forefront of my thoughts while celebrating St. Patty's Day/Weekend. I'm not even sure what it is we celebrate on St. Patty's Day...maybe it's life and what could possibly be a better reason to celebrate? Life, love, peace and happiness collectively comprise the lifeblood of our existence.

And if you disagree, take a long look in the mirror or better yet, read this little story written back in March of 2006 about a wonderful friend that I'm blessed to have who I refer to simply as JB...

Yesterday I made my way down to the St. Patty's Day Parade, an annual tradition for nearly all of my Celtic friends who adorn themselves in Gaelic splendor and shades of green. They ascended upon their comfortable perches on Charles Street to watch Irish dancers, politicians, members of Irish clubs and bagpipe players waltz through the streets of downtown Baltimore towards their Inner Harbor destination.

There were green carnations, green dogs, green-haired ladies, green tattoos, hundreds of silly green leprechaun-like hats and many, many smiles.

The Irish certainly take a back seat to no one when it comes to having a great time!

As for me, while my name screams Italian heritage, there are drops of blood that run in my veins from a few places in Europe but Ireland isn't one of them. The closest I get to Irish blood is when a hearty Guinness travels my circulatory system.

And while I can't say that I was moved by the Irish ethnicity or the 15th variation of Oh Danny Boy that I heard in the 90 minutes I was there, I can tell you that I was inspired by a dear friend who participated in the event and marched with The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

Jimmy didn't do anything extraordinary during his march with the proud Sons. In fact what he did was quite ordinary for the average person -- a casual one mile stroll on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

But Jimmy is hardly average.

Last year while helping a friend of his who owns a landscaping business, Jimmy fell from a tractor in a large field pulling an industrial sized cutter. The tractor continued uninterrupted as Jimmy lay there, staring at the teeth of those hungry stainless steel blades. Fortunately Jimmy was able to roll away just in time to prevent the cutter from hitting his torso or upper extremities. His legs weren't as lucky. Jimmy lost 4 toes on one foot, suffered a compound fracture of one ankle and a laceration to a calf of epic proportions.

As the tractor continued on in a Pacman-like fury, Jimmy laid writhing in pain and screaming for help in this remote field. Thankfully he was heard by someone off in the distance and Jimmy was transported by Medivac to the University of Maryland.

Jimmy took the injury in stride. He reflected upon the accident and chose to find the silver lining, considered himself fortunate to escape more serious harm and happy that someone heard his plea for help.

But the hard part waited ahead for my friend.

Jimmy has never been the sveltest guy on the planet nor has he ever been what I might call a gym rat -- not even close. But he is determined and focused once he chooses a destination or goal and attacks it with heart, grit and perseverance.

Jimmy was instrumental in establishing Ravens Roost 50 which in many ways is the standard to which all other Roosts and Nests are compared. He helped to lead the charge to establish ties with selfless organizations like the Ed Block Courage Foundation; when his ailing Dad needed a kidney, up stepped Jimmy saying, "Hey, I've got an extra one!"

And when disabled and underprivileged children hoped for a new toy for Christmas, Jimmy was there to deliver two.

But suddenly after his accident, Jimmy found himself disabled as well.

Yesterday I watched him stroll down Charles Street, wearing one of those green derby caps, green blazer, and a big, big smile. Maybe he was disguising his discomfort with that ear to ear grin that I found so heartwarming. And until now, he probably had no idea that he was and is a source of inspiration.

You see it's souls like Jimmy's that we attach ourselves to. He embodies what is so wonderful about the human spirit. He is the type of person that Baltimore finds endearing -- the local guy who loves our town and wears his civic pride like a coat of arms on his sleeve; like a tattoo emblazoned into eternity.

Jimmy is akin to Ravens such as Kelly Gregg, Jarret Johnson and Bart Scott. They are ready willing and able to take one for the team in order to advance the team while dodging or redirecting the accolades that come their way. Maybe that's why the Ravens made a move for players like Justin Bannan and Mike Anderson, additional examples of what hard work, dedication and devotion to the team means.

Jimmy knows what it means. Knowing Jimmy, I doubt that he was trying to do anything during that long mile other than to prove something to himself and to help promote his brothers of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

But there's more JB -- there's more.

Just like all of those athletes with inspiring stories who are celebrated by the Ed Block Courage Foundation, you too are to be celebrated and commended. Just because you don't share the celebrity of a Dale Carter or a Steve Smith or Tedy Bruschi, doesn't mean your noble deeds and humanitarian efforts are any less relevant.

Ed Block I'm sure would happily accept your acquaintance.

When I think of random acts of kindness, I think of Jimmy Bullington!

You inspire me my brother and I can promise you I'm not alone -- not by a long shot. It's a pleasure to know you and an even greater pleasure to call you "friend".



Anonymous said...

I nominate Jimmy for the Ed Block courage award for non athletes. Wouldn't it be great if one fan from each city were allowed to accompany the player from each city. This would be a golden opportunity to expose these players to regular everyday working people with diseases and injuries.