Little league mom gets the gift of a lifetime
When Nona Rudolph posted a comment on the Lake Oswego Review website about not being able to afford the trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to see her son Levi play in the Little League World Series, she had no idea that a random reader would stumble upon the comment and do everything possible to get her there.
'I was heartbroken that I couldn't make it. I kept emailing myself all of the news about the team and all of their wins, that's how I read the story on the Review site and posted that comment,' Nona Rudolph said, sitting in the stands of Lamade Stadium holding her handwritten sign of support for her son.
She arrived in Williamsport at 11 p.m. on Saturday night, just in time to watch Lake Oswego win against Massachusetts Sunday afternoon. When the teams were announced and Levi's name was listed over the PA system, Rudolph jumped up and down and held her sign for him high in the air.
Her trip to Williamsport has certainly been monumental. And before Sunday's game, she could not believe that she actually made it there to watch her son. It had been over two and a half weeks since she last saw Levi, before his trip to San Bernardino, California where the team won regionals.
'I couldn't afford to travel with the team because the company I was working for went out of business, went bankrupt and my paycheck bounced. I still have the bounced check with me to show creditors and people if they don't believe me,' Rudolph said. 'It's embarrassing to say that I couldn't pay my rent and have been living with a friend since August 1, but there was nothing I could do.'
With no hope of making the long and expensive trip to Williamsport, Rudolph was downhearted, but determined to cheer as much as she could from her home in Oregon.
'I was following the team and all of the news,' she said.
A part of Rudolph's post on the Review website read: 'My name is Nona Rudolph - I'm Levi's mom. I am heartbroken that I am not in a position financially to get to the World Series - talk about a team of boys living the dream. . .I am with them in my heart as are all the parents from all the teams not being able to attend.'
A woman named Cammie Ware read the comment, hunted down her cell-phone number, and called her Friday morning - 24 hours after she had written about not going to Williamsport. Ware told Rudolph that the Little League Organization was going to provide her with a plane ticket to Pennsylvania and a hotel room through the duration of the tournament.
'I started bawling and couldn't stop for two and a half hours,' Rudolph said. 'This is a once in a lifetime experience.'
The odds of one woman across the country discovering her comments and single-handedly helping her fly to Pennsylvania were not lost on Rudolph. 'I bought a lottery ticket and didn't get a single number right. You buy a lottery ticket and you think there might be a chance. This is far more unexpected than winning the lottery,' she said.
Seeing Levi for the first time was the highlight. It had been so long that both were emotionally weary from the distance. 'I hid behind some of the dads outside of the gate where they are staying and popped out behind them right as Levi was exiting.'
Levi greeted his mom enthusiastically. Twenty-four hours before she arrived, he had been lamenting her absence. 'I haven't been able to see my mom for about three weeks,' he said. 'We can't really talk on the phone much.' He admitted it was hard and was excited about her arrival.
'Most 12 or 13-year-old boys like to stay a little distant from their moms, you know, give them a little lean instead of a hug, but when we saw each other for the first time, he let me kiss him and we just hugged for seven minutes,' Rudolph said.
Even the rain and wet Pennsylvania conditions aren't a deterrent to her excitement about watching her son take the field. 'I just came from Oregon,' she laughed.
Her story has attracted much attention and a lot of tears as people weigh the enormity of the gift and gesture. And she certainly isn't taking any of it for granted.
Rudolph added, 'I told a friend that I wasn't going to call until I was actually here in the stadium, because I wasn't going to believe it until I got here.'