CLEVELAND, Ohio (WYTV) – A local woman got the chance to meet one of her favorite baseball players at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Saturday, all thanks to some special people at Shepherd of the Valley.
The Cleveland Indians arranged for Alba Rivera, a resident at Shepard of the Valley with dementia, to attend batting practice.
This visit was made possible through a non-profit program called Second Wind Dreams, which works to grant dreams to people living in retirement communities like Shepard of the Valley.
“The Second Wind Dreams program is something that we brought onto Shepard about five years ago. It was an opportunity for us to have our residents fulfill some dreams,” said Tony Perrone of Shepard of the Valley.
Kim Osborn is the activity director at Shepherd of the Valley in Boardman. She knew Alba Rivera loved the Indians and wanted to do something special for her.
“Alba was also an employee of Shepard of the Valley for a very long time. She was a housekeeper at the Boardman facility for many many years, and now she is a resident there as well. So that connection between her being an employee and a resident is very special to us,” Osborn said.
She met several players, like Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Chris Gimenez, as they autographed her baseball and took pictures with her. She even had her own Indians jersey that said “Mom Number 1.”
But the highlight of her day was getting to meet her favorite player, Sandy Alomar, now the Indians’ coach. He talked with her in Spanish before she stood and gave him a hug.
“She fell in love with watching Sandy Alomar when he was playing as a catcher with the team, and again she got to meet him today. That was just great,” said her son Rocky Rivera.
Alba was allowed to stay on the field for most of batting practice.
“I just want to thank everybody for giving my mom this day. She’s having a great time and it’s just awesome to see her have a good day,” Rocky Rivera said.
Other residents of Shepherd of the Valley who have participated in the Second Wind Dreams program have gone swimming, horseback riding and zip lining.