“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” Sophia Loren
Ain't that the truth. I think at least four times - once for my children, once for my husband and again for MY mother and myself. ShoMommy's mental check list kicked in at McDonald's in the Lithia Springs WalMart about a month ago. I was craving a large $1 libation to keep me cool and help me chill while I grabbed a few items from the neighborhood superstore. However, my desire for a refreshing sip of sweet tea wasn't the only thing on my mind. Printed on the cup and the receipt I saw an ad for McDonald's annual World Cup sweepstakes. Parents were encouraged to register their elementary age children for a chance to win an all expense paid trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Cue the proverbial light bulb.
The Shoyoye family has soccer in it's blood. My father-in-law was an incredible student athlete who secured a college futbol scholarship that brought him from Nigeria to Ohio in pursuit of higher education. That's where he met his lovely wife to be; the mother of his future children - their oldest son being my husband Marvin.
My 7 year old Nigel played soccer for a couple years in Chicago. This summer we decided to kick it up a few notches as a family. The kids joined a brand new league in our Atlanta community, Olympic Atlanta Soccer Club. Both Nigel, and our three year old daughter Morenikke, joined age level teams. Strangely enough there weren't an overwhelming amount of soccer pros clamoring to coach the 3/4 year old squad. I volunteered to take on the job, figuring that the wee ones wouldn't catch on that we'd be learning the game together as beginners. Given my new role as Coach Sho and my son's renewed interest in the sport, I submitted an entry for the Mickey D's Player Escort contest on behalf of Nigel. Rules allowed for each parent/guardian to enter once a day for a one week period, so registering Mom and Dad boosted our chances. I told a few folks about the promotion in passing and didn't give too much thought to Nigel ACTUALLY WINNING. Fast forward to my stunned husband taking a quick call from a McDonald's rep. "Babe. We really won," he said with cautious enthusiasm. He and Nigel will soon be taking the trip of a lifetime. I'm looking forward to a lifetime of them telling the story and thanking me for being brilliant enough to enter.
After three weeks of verifying the legitimacy of their win, the tedious process of renewing passports and requesting visas, Nigel's selection as one of 25 McDonald's Child Ambassadors and Team USA Player Escorts was official! On June 16, 2014 Nigel will escort players from the Men's US Soccer team onto the field before they face off against Ghana in Natal, Brazil. Set your DVR! At the request of the sponsors we had to keep things hush hush. Hard to do with lots of thrilled family members and an exceedingly astute first grader. Eventually we picked a date for the big reveal, May 22nd. My birthday! How fitting that on the day that I celebrate my life, my son is given an extraordinary gift. It made the day so very special for my family, and brought me an indescribable amount of pride and joy.
We are blessed and eternally grateful! School is out for summer and Nigel ended it with authority. He was promoted to Wolf Cub through Boys Scouts of America, portrayed a munchkin in his school's presentation of The Wiz, then received a Principal's Award and Literacy Honor for finishing first grade reading at a seventh grade level. For working so hard and being such a smart, sweet boy; he deserves this magical moment! We're already planning for the trip. He'll embark on this journey with a new camera to capture his memories, and a notepad to write down his thoughts and take down email addresses for the friends he'll make on his first international excursion.
Local news media was on hand to document this unforgettable announcement. Check out the links below and share, share, share in support of my sunny boy :-D
AJC.com Sports News Now Article
Nigel escorting USMNT member DaMarcus Beasley