Determination, grit, motivation and optimism are just a few words that describe the latest Birdland Community Hero award winners. Inspired by Trey Mancini’s fight against stage III colon cancer, the Orioles are proud to recognize The F16HTers -- the individuals across Birdland who are overcoming insurmountable odds every day. These heroes see challenges and approach them head on, without letting anything stand in their way.
In conjunction with this recognition, the Orioles will be making a $5,000 donation to Thread, a local organization that harnesses the power of relationships to create a new social fabric by engaging young people that are facing the most significant opportunity and achievement gaps.
We invite you to join us in celebrating the inspiring stories of The F16HTers in our community.
Daniel, a 2020 graduate from Baltimore City College High School, is an activist and champion for his community. In his senior year of high school, he was introduced to the Ceasefire movement, a campaign to end gun violence in Baltimore. As he became educated on the background of Ceasefire, he immediately began to plan his own Ceasefire weekend. Over Mother’s Day weekend, he led his class to participate in the Ceasefire by educating friends, neighbors and family about his event, and attending to rallies and protests.
His desire to lead the campaign came from caring for his friends and family who have experienced devastating losses. He knew he could use his voice to speak for others. Daniel passionately stated that he understands how trauma can affect all facets of someone’s life and he wants everyone’s voice to be heard, even if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up themselves.
Daniel believes activism is important.
“If you don't speak for yourself, no one will,” he said. “We all need a voice to speak for our community and I am that voice for Baltimore City College. The more we speak up, the more we will be heard.”
His inspiration comes from his friends, family and future success in his community.
“Seeing the city get better is why I do what I do, hoping one day Baltimore can be safe for everybody to walk freely with no worry,” he said.
Daniel held a 4.2 GPA and will be attending Bowie State University on a full scholarship. He plans to continue his education through to graduate school.
“I would like to become a real estate agent when I graduate college. I feel that me becoming a real estate agent will make me happy, because I like to help people and selling homes is another part of me helping the people in my city,” shared Daniel. “Another goal in my life is to help my generation be heard and show that we have a voice.”
When asked what he would like the community to know about him, he reassures community members that “I will fight until I cannot anymore.”
The next Ceasefire Weekend is Aug. 7-9, 2020. Fans can learn more about Ceasefire by visiting baltimoreceasefire.com.
Hayden is a recent fifth grade graduate of Denton Elementary School, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He is a passionate Orioles fan, and impresses others with his knowledge of the players and the sport. His loved ones have described him as very bright, compassionate, athletic and strong. A teacher at his school even declared him as “one of the bravest children I have ever had the honor of knowing.”
During his fourth grade year, Hayden was given news much heavier than any child should ever receive. His doctors discovered a cancerous tumor on his brain stem, sending him into emergency surgery. Hayden spent the majority of fourth grade recovering from the surgery and attending physical therapy. His doctors were successful in removing most his tumor, and he began chemotherapy. Unfortunately, it was discovered that Hayden’s tumor has since grown, but despite all these challenges, Hayden showed up every day for fifth grade.
Recently, the Orioles surprised Hayden with a meet and greet with one of his favorite Orioles, Trey Mancini. In the video below, they discuss school, life and what it means to be a Fighter.
Special thanks to Laura Love, who shared Hayden’s story with the Orioles.
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched the lives of many people across the Birdland community, including 107-year-old Marilee Asher of Chevy Chase, Md. In addition to surviving COVID, Marilee survived the Spanish Flu of 1918 -- over a century ago! Thanks to the wonderful medical professionals at Sibley Memorial Hospital (Johns Hopkins Medicine), Marilee spent just five days in the hospital and has since returned home. Professionally, Marilee is an artist, sculptor, and author of the book, “Dancing in the Wonder For 102 Years: An Autobiography.” Marilee says she is grateful for the support she has received from people around the world. Fans can learn more about Marilee, and view her artwork, by visiting her website.
Overcoming adversity and being a fighter often go hand in hand, as they do in the case of Rehan Staton. Rehan and his brother Reggie were raised by a single father in Baltimore and experienced housing insecurity, food insecurity and lack of heat in the winter.
In grade school, Rehan failed a year and was recommended to be moved into remedial education. After this suggestion, he worked hard to take control of his studies and went on to find a passion in martial arts. He took part in championships across the globe, until he suffered a rotator cuff injury and was no longer able to compete.
After his plan to become a professional boxer was sidelined, he wanted to pursue higher education but was rejected by every college where he applied. He found employment as a sanitation worker with Bates Trucking, Trash, and Recycling. Many of Rehan’s coworkers were formerly incarcerated and according to Rehan, they were the “first people in my life that gave me a community of empowerment and love.” His coworkers connected him with a professor from Bowie State University and helped him gain acceptance.
Rehan found success at Bowie and eventually transferred to the University of Maryland, where he graduated as the Commencement Speaker. During his time at UMD, his father suffered a stroke, causing Rehan to continue as a sanitation worker full-time to help pay for his father’s care while going to school. His inspiration to move forward comes from his father and his father’s sacrifices to give him and his brother the best life he could.
Rehan has gone on to pursue graduate school and was recently accepted to five law schools, including Harvard, where he will attend in the fall. His goals at Harvard are to study sports law and potentially pursue a career as an agent. Rehan also has a passion for creating pipelines to higher education for those who were formerly incarcerated and to students from impoverished areas. He felt uplifted by his fellow sanitation workers and wants to do the same for others. He cites the importance of education's role in providing a person more than one potential path.
"Options are important, even if they are only pit stops toward the overall goal," Rehan said. "However, I truly believe higher education is the greatest opportunity in life to network among like-minded people and meet your role models to create new and unforeseen avenues to create a better life for yourself.”
He shares that his greatest lessons were learned outside of the classroom in office hours with professors, at social gatherings, speaking engagements and more.
These resilient individuals represent the fighting spirit in all of us. By meeting obstacles and personal challenges head on and without fear, they share a message of hope. Each fighter reminds us that any hurdle can be overcome, as long as you keep moving forward. To Trey, Daniel, Hayden, Marilee, Rehan and to anyone facing adversity -- keep fighting. Birdland stands proudly behind you.