Editor's note: Ted Monachino was a teacher and coach in Hannibal during the 1990s. He is now Linebackers Coach for the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens. The following story was written by Ted's mother, of Laddonia, who along with her family, was on hand in New Orleans to witness the Super Bowl win.
It has taken over a month to record one of our family's greatest blessings. I have done a fair share of writing in my day and published several articles and written a few speeches. So it was pretty natural that our daughter Candy would ask when I was going to write our story. I told her that I totally had put it out if my mind. I also told her I wasn't going to write about it because I didn't want people to think I was bragging or that our family was more special than anyone else's.
I shared what Candy had said to my prayer group and one of the girls said, "Perhaps it's the devil that's keeping you from doing it?" Never being one who would cave in to the devil without a darn good fight, at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, I got out of bed from a sleepless night to tell our story.
As we all know, God gives us all an equal amount of his love and regards all of us as His children and would not choose one over the other. He numbers the hairs on our heads. He counts the feathers of a sparrow. In our family, God is revered and consulted before any big decision. Without Him, we would be like lost ships being whipped about on the ocean with no idea where we were or where we were going.
Well in early February, we began to get what would become God's and our compass from Ted our youngest son who is the Linebackers Coach for the Baltimore Ravens. When it was clear that the Baltimore Ravens would be going to the Super Bowl after defeating the New England Patriots, we were doubtful that our health would allow us to go to the Super Bowl even though our children had different ideas.
I am 77 years old and my husband is 79. I am on oxygen 24 hours a day and while I have a great portable concentrator and can travel, my endurance and strength are compromised. I need to have extra batteries or be near an electric outlet to keep the concentrator charged. My husband Ono has had repeated serious bouts with congestive heart failure so we were very hesitant to jump on board the dream trip to the Super Bowl.
God and Ted had a different plan. Ted called about a week before the Super Bowl and said, "Mom and Dad, I am getting tickets for you. I have reserved a room at the Embassy Suites." He said "I am in the process of getting handicapped tickets so you can be near a power outlet Mom." The Embassy Suites was designated as the official family and friends Hotel. The team would be staying at the Hilton, about 5-6 blocks away.
Page 2 of 3 - Ted continued, "You'll be transported to the game in a bus that will pick you both up before the game and take you to a lot near the stadium where wheelchairs will be waiting for you. After the game, the wheelchairs will take you to the bus for your transportation back to the hotel."
With that gift, just one of many that he and all of our children have given us over the years, we were able to say yes, we can do this. The compass clearly pointed south from Missouri to New Orleans, LA for Ono and I and the way was made clear. Recognizing that this was God at work smoothing out our path, I recalled a passage from my Streams in the Desert book from Josh.1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given to you. How could we say no?
Meanwhile the rest of the family had gone through a Vacation Rental Agency and had found on-line a beautifully, restored 2 story home with 4 bedrooms and 4 baths and balcony access for 2 of the rooms that was available. It was perfect for them and not that far from our hotel. They had all their tickets to the Super Bowl so it was settled there would be a large contingent of Monachino family members going to the "show" as Ted called it
So Ono and I were off to New Orleans. We checked in the hotel and picked up our credentials that we needed in order to get into our room. It consisted of a huge placard on a lanyard with the Family and Friends of the Ravens. We would need those to go anywhere near the team hotel or into the stadium so they became our most important accessory.
Friday night, Ted invited the whole family to join him, Amy, Mikalee, Samuel and Michael for dinner at the Hilton. There were 16 of us and our reservations set and we began gathering at the Hilton. Besides being a table full of relatives that we dearly love, and a few friends, we were sitting in a high traffic area where some of the coaches and players entered or exited from the dining room.
Stopping by to say hello was a favorite of mine, Michael Oher, the outstanding tackle for the Ravens from Mississippi who was the subject of The Blind Side book and movie. Our son in law Paul snapped a photo just as Michael was telling me I looked pretty in purple. Of course, there was purple everywhere! Joe Flacco with his new baby in his arms walked by at a fast pace. Courtney Upshaw, OLB from Alabama, and Paul Kruger, OLB from Utah, stopped by our table and Ted introduced us to his family. As we were in the lobby, General Manager Ozzie Newsome was walking by so Ted hailed him over so we got to meet one of the most influential men with the Ravens organization. The next day was filled with tourist activities for the younger ones in our family. For Ono and me it was a day for us to rest up and get ready for the Super Bowl. We met the rest of the family for dinner Saturday night.
Page 3 of 3 - The big day arrived, Super Bowl XLVII and just as Ted had promised, we were transported to the stadium and picked up when we arrived at a lot fairly near the stadium and then wheeled up to our handicapped seats on the 50 yard line about 40 rows up from the field, Ted had arranged that an electric outlet was at arm's reach for me. We sat in regular chairs, with lots of leg room. Security was directly behind us and Guest Services was right behind them. We were there just in time to spot Ted on the field and our grandson Sammy. Ted and Amy's eldest son Samuel had the distinct honor of working beside his Dad on the field.
The rest of the story is of course is sports history for the Baltimore Ravens when they earned and were declared the World Champions on February 4, 2013 with a score of 34-31 against the San Francisco 49ers. Not a huge difference in the score but a W (win) regardless and a remarkable effort by the coaches and team members to fulfill a dream by Ravens fans forever.
The winners by a huge margin however was the entire Monachino family and our extended family. It was by God's grace and mercy that we were all together for what is now and will become a memory that will live in our hearts forever.
We skipped the post-game party's and boarded our bus back to our hotel. Ono and I were tired physically, still in the celebratory mood though we found a couple of chairs in the hotel lobby. We toasted each other and the Ravens and almost at the same time said, I love you. Ono and I saying "I love you" to each other for 57 years. That is 57 years full of raising 5 incredible children with God's mercy and help. From that blessing of our 5 came 6 incredible grandchildren. Because our children's faith is strong their families trust and look for God's help and mercy as well. Now that's a big W!