Born on February 2 the weather is always iffy in Baltimore on my birthday. Due to this, the past couple of years I’ve traveled to Aruba and Mexico to celebrate in warm weather. This year however, I had the opportunity to visit Aspen, Colorado to try my hand at adaptive skiing for the first time.
This trip really pushed me out of my comfort zone because I always wondered, “why would anyone want to slide down steep mountains on two boards?” I guess you could blame it on the many years I’ve watched athletes crashing at the X Games. Adding to my reservations, the last day of the X Game was in Aspen Sunday when we arrived, so I spent my night watching guys crash on the neighboring mountains I would be skiing.
Despite the unknown, I was excited to try something new. It was important that I continue to push my limits and grow as a person. As a teacher, to my students at Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, it’s also important that I lead by example and show them that they determine what external factors mean to them. I want to show my students that they should never let negative circumstances, their zip code, or statistics determine their future.
The thrill I received from skiing was something I haven’t experienced since my football days. It was one of the best feelings ever. I now understand what makes athletes ski down mountains. I’m officially a fan.
I would like to thank everyone and all the sponsors who assisted in making this trip possible. I would especially like to thank Anna Stonehouse for capturing this experience and The Aspen Times for featuring me on the front page of their newspaper
As my trip in Aspen wrapped up, I was excited to head home for the Inaugural Famous Flag Football Tournament to benefit my foundation Safe Alternative Foundation for Education.
Since starting SAFE, I’ve always wanted to partner on an event with Jimmy’s Famous Seafood. When my buddy John Minadakis hit me up saying he wanted to start a new tradition and put on an annual fundraiser to benefit SAFE I was all for it. After a few months of planning the day was finally here.
Arriving back at home in Baltimore, from Aspen, approximately 1:30am, I only got a few hours of sleep due to an 8:00am news interview and tournament start. Hosted by Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, 14 teams of 12 players signed up to play in the day long tournament at Loyola Blakefield, which also included a quarterback challenge. The winning team received a Superbowl styled trophy.
To celebrate my birthday, I headed down to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood for an afterparty. The night began with a surprise visit from a few of my friends from high school whom I haven’t seen in a while. One even made the drive down from New Jersey. Next was a speech from John Minadakis, followed by a check presentation from him and Ray Rice in the amount of $4,000 for SAFE.
And of course, there was birthday cake.
I’ve had an extremely long and exhausting week, but the love I received and felt made it all worth it. Turning 31 was one of the best birthdays!!!