It was a wonderful day that every kid dreams of. I received a phone call from Lou Billitier from the Erie County Sheriff's Department and, more notably, the famous Chef's Restaurant on Monday morning. He asked if Jon Jon would be able to come to lunch at his restaurant on Tuesday around Noon. He arranged to have a special guest for Jon Jon there. As it turned out Lou set up a lunch with none other than the Buffalo Sabres star goaltender Ryan Miller!! When Jon Jon heard about it he was so excited as were Mommy and I!
I also invited a couple of guests to come along since many of my family members were unable to attend. Mike Baumgartner and his son AJ and the entire Botham family joined along.
It was an awesome time. Ryan is such a down to earth nice guy. We talked about his growing up in Lansing, Michigan and his family life, as well as some aspects of professional hockey and the members of the Sabres team and their comraderie. It was funny how he talked about his first goalie mask for street hockey he made out of a paper plate and the eye holes were cut out with scissors. He and his brothers and the neighborhood kids would play street hockey from sunrise to sunset, just like every other kid in North America. He told how he would tie the couch cushions to his legs as goalie pads. It was just like talking with one of our neighborhood friends about the old days growing up in the 'burbs.
He was relaxed and curteous and not hurried at all and Jon Jon just loved it. He sat right next to Ryan and we all had an absolute delicious lunch from Chef's. Ryan autographed a few things for the kids and us big kids too. He also posed for pictures as you can see. I think this picture of Jon Botham and Ryan sums up how much fun we all had, Ryan included.
Jon Jon gave him a Jon Jon's Journey bracelet and he promptly put it on. Just to be fair, since he was autographing things for us Jonny Botham repaid Ryan the favor and gave him an autographed Jon Botham rookie hockey card in his Shamrock's uniform. It was very cute.
Emma just stared and smiled at Ryan the entire time and she even managed to say a few things to him. I think the picture of her and Ryan pretty much sums up how she felt about the entire day.
Of course the girls weren't to be left out and they got some nice pictures with him. I will post all of the pictures from the day on the main website once I get them downloaded.
We ended up spending about an hour and a half with him and the time flew by. After lunch We got all of our pictures and autographs and then we prepared to leave. As we were getting ready walk out of the room I got a peak at what a really nice guy Ryan is. I saw Jon Jon walk up to him and he had him lean over so Jon Jon could whisper a question in his ear. Apparently Jon Jon asked to give Ryan a hug before we left. Ryan stood up, smiled, replied "sure" and with that they gave each other a hug. It showed us what a nice human being he truly is!
We want to thank Ryan for taking the time out of his busy schedule to spend time with Jon Jon! You truly made his and, in turn, our day! The memories you have created for the 3 family's that were there will never be forgotten!
Thank You to Lou Billitier and Chef's Restaurant for doing this for our son! We will be forever grateful. I must also tell you that the food was spectacular, as it is everytime we eat there!!!
Your waitress was excellent, as well, and we thank her for her great service!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!
On our way home we stopped by the Dent Tower to see the nurses and let them see how well Jon Jon was doing. One of the girls there has a neighbor by the name of Nathan Paetsch from the Sabres. She asked for something from him to give to Jon Jon. Nathan got a Sabres stick and had every player from the team sign it to give to Jon Jon. The girls also gave Jon Jon a donation for his savings from the Dent Dress Down Days. Thank you Nathan, you have 4 more fans!! And thank you to ALL of the employees from the Dent Tower. We have been thankful from the day we stepped foot in that building and believe Jon Jon would be much worse off now, or not here at all, had we not been referred to your care!
We just continue to be overwhelmed at the kindness everyone shows for our son. We knew what a great kid he is and this just reinforces it to us. It also shows what an amazingly compassionate community we live in and We are just so thankful that we live here!!
Make sure you check back to the website for all of the pictures fromour day with Ryan and our visit at the Dent!!
Thank you and God Bless!!
Jon, Anne, Jon Jon, andClaire