By Yadira Betances.-
Yamilette Espada of Lawrence said she will keep on living her five minutes of fame for as long as she can.
After all, not too many 13-year-olds can brag about throwing the first pitch at historic Fenway Park, before a standing-room-only crowd of 37,762 fans, like she did on June 24 before the Red Sox played the Orioles.
“I was so, so nervous, but also very happy because it’s a privilege to throw the ball at the game,” said Yamilette, who is entering the eighth grade at Esperanza Academy in Lawrence.
“It was like, ‘Wow!’ It went too fast. I wanted it to last longer. When I went home I was so tired. It wasn’t until the next day it had registered what had happened.” I was part of Latino Youth Recognition Day brought to you by El Mundo newspaper and the Red Sox.
Prior to her unforgettable moment, 19 students from Lawrence and two from Lowell were recognized on the field for their academic achievements by players Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Lawrence students came from Up Academy Oliver, Spark Academy, Up Academy Leonard, Bruce, Wetherbee, Parthum Middle, South Lawrence East, Arlington, Guilmette and Frost Middle schools. Students from Lowell were from the Stoklosa Middle School.
Also, greeting the youngsters were Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, State Rep. Frank Moran, Boston Marathon hero Carlos Arredondo, national chairwoman of ALPFA Yvonne Garcia and Dario Collado, corporate development officer of Boston Children’s Hospital Trust.
That was the first game Yamilette ever attended at Fenway and it got better and better. One highlight was seeing her favorite player, “Big Papi” David Ortiz hit a home run.
“I got up from my seat, and clapped and hollered so hard; it was great”. Yamilette said.
She won the chance to throw the ceremonial first pitch after being selected from a pool of students during a breakfast at Fenway. She read her speech about overcoming Attention Deficit Hypertension Disorder or ADHD and Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the body’s connective tissues.
She recalled her first day at Esperanza as one full of fears and tears from her anxiety of failing at the all-girl school grew. It all came from being teased at her previous school.
“This is when the crying began. I cried out of helplessness and frustration and sadness,” she wrote.
Things began to change when her math teacher Caitlin Bixby not only taught her how to prioritize her work, become organized and to participate in class by sharing her opinion and asking questions.
“I’m very happy and grateful that my daughter is being recognized. She does struggle more than others to do her homework, but she has made us proud,” Yamilette’s mother Luz Salas said.
Hard work pay off
Marta Dominguez was another mother who brimmed with pride when she saw her daughter Kyra Devoe on the field at Fenway rubbing elbows with players, politicians and dignitaries.
“I am extremely proud of Kyra,” Dominguez said, noting this is the second time Kyra has been honored for her academics and her involvement in the community.
“Everyone who knows her, knows that she is great spirited person, funny, loving, caring, helpful and has a deep love for God.”
In turn, Kyra said it was “awesome” to have been honored by El Mundo newspaper and the Red Sox organization. She also thanked her mother, her family, God as well as teachers and staff at the Parthum School.
“I’m glad that children get to see that hard work (does) pay off and that I can be an example to them,” Kyra said.