Makenna Woodburn is a very special 7-year-old girl who recently attended a Boston Red Sox spring training session in Fort Myers, Florida, where she did a remarkably patriotic thing. Customarily, the players will sign autographs for fans waiting after the practice has ended, and that’s exactly where Makenna was patiently waiting in line with a new baseball. She was excited and hopeful to get the baseball signed by one of the players. That’s when she saw someone walking nearby in uniform. She immediately ran over.
However, the person Makenna saw wasn’t wearing a Red Sox uniform. It was Olyvia Russell, a U.S. Army reservist, dressed in her camouflage uniform, whom Makenna saw and rushed to. Giving up her place in line for a professional baseball player’s autograph, the 7-year-old asked Russell if she would sign the baseball. Shocked but more than happy to honor the request, Russell autographed the ball.
“She’s a hero instead of a baseball player,” Makenna said of why she wanted to get Russell’s autograph. Now that she has it, she doesn’t want to put it down either. “I want to save my allowance for a case,” she added. “And on Wednesday, I’m going to take it to school with me for show and tell.”
For Russell, it was an equally moving experience. “It’s crazy that she gave up meeting a celebrity just to talk to a soldier,” said Russell afterward. “And I mean I’m in the Reserve, so what I do is important, but there’s men and women overseas who are risking their lives every day, and it’s just really nice that she recognizes people like them. I’m just truly thankful for that.”
Watch the inspiring video of their encounter below!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.