Last night was lining up to look like a pretty sweet evening. First stop was to be Red Robin where we took Leona out for her birthday dinner - always a great start to have dinner with the family there. (Getting a little ahead of myself with this picture, but since it included her...I put it here.)
Next up was the final regular season game for Brayden's team. We have a bye weekend upcoming (perfect as we'll be at a CCF retreat) and then his play-off games will begin on Sunday, the 30th. This last team was a little short-handed, so it was a relatively easy victory, leading us to the point where our coach was able to use folks who normally didn't get to handle the ball as running backs. Brayden prayed practically the whole game, on both offense and defense, and ended up being given the ball to run with. I was so touched by the coach who repetitively let him make efforts - even though Brayden was barely able to make forward progress (despite some rather impressive jukes and spins in his efforts!)
But, then, the second to last play of the game - Brayden broke free and made it to the sideline and ran! AHHHHHHH! Best moment of the game for us and so rewarding for him. He wasn't able to score - even if he had gotten all the way to the endzone he would have had to have taken a knee just short due to the "mercy rule" in effect. So, it was all just as well.
To add to the delight of the game was Kenjon's presence on the sidelines. He showed up casually during the second quarter, but it didn't take long for some of the younger attendees to take notice. This whole celebrity thing takes me by surprise, because when I was their age, especially as a girl, I would have never known who certain players were, much less their names and identifying them without them in uniform. But, these girls knew. And, they swarmed. Giggles, pictures, and autographs ensued and I did my best to intercede so that the poor guy wasn't trapped in a claustrophobic huddle of teeny-bop endorphins!
What a sweetheart though - he was incredibly indulging and personable with each of the folks that greeted him. A gentleman through and through. When asked why he was at the game, he made it clear he was there "to support his 'little brother'" and when asked who that was he made it clear it was for Brayden. So sweet.
Fortunately, as John is all over the place up and down the field taking pictures, Kenjon was able to "hide out" with him - the ongoing joke with Kenjon was that if we knew he'd wanted to do a photo shoot we could have accommodated him better.... =)
After the game, he posed a bit with some of Brayden's teammates and was especially gracious and complimentary in meeting them. When we suggested that Brayden and Kenjon pose together to commemorate Brayden's best game, Kenjon took the pose up a notch, surprising Brayden as he hoisted him into his arms.
Later, we treated Kenjon to DQ and headed back to the house to just hang. Brayden rode in Kenjon's vehicle and they had some valuable football conversations. Apparently, they are holding each other accountable to each giving 100% when they play in their respective football games. Despite his heart, with Brayden, sometimes there seems to be an intensity lacking, so we'll see if this helps him kick in that extra drive as the upcoming opponents will require it.
Back at the house, Kenjon "started it" with the kids in a game of "Keep-Away". He'll know better next time - you don't "start it" with the kids unless you are in for about 30 minutes of playtime...they just won't quit if they are getting that kind of attention.
Meanwhile, John and I sat back on the couches, uploading pictures and sorting laundry - marveling at this turn of events that brought this guy into our home - and especially our hearts. He's become another member of the "Extended Riley Family" - and we couldn't feel more blessed.