Inspire Us

The Guideposts editor-in-chief shares the winner of the Inspirational Fan Story contest in Greenville, South Carolina.

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Hi, y’all, I’m just back from friendly Greenville, South Carolina, where I got to spend time with a great group of GUIDEPOSTS fans at Faith Night, held at Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive, a minor league baseball team in the Boston Red Sox farm system.  

All summer we’ve been on a quest to find the most inspirational fan in the “Upland,” as natives call it. We received some incredibly moving stories from Drive fans and GUIDEPOSTS readers alike and, after much consideration, we narrowed it down to three terrific stories. 

Tuesday night—a gorgeous night for a ballgame—GUIDEPOSTS hosted 200 or so guests at a picnic at Fluor Field, many attending with their local churches. Everyone entering the park received copies of the three stories and a ballot to vote on which story was most inspiring. In the middle of the sixth inning the votes were counted and the lucky winner announced.

Why a baseball game? I happen to think sports, at their best, have incredible potential for inspiration, especially baseball (ever watch Field Of Dreams or The Natural?). 

I’ve said it before—if God is a fan of any sport, it’s baseball. For me, there is nothing like a warm summer’s night, the lush green of the diamond vivid under the lights, the thwack of a fastball in the catcher’s mitt, the sharp crack of single up the middle, the perfect trajectory of a ball arcing into the night sky. 

Baseball is the only sporting event that (for the most part) relaxes me. At other games, I’m usually tense and anxiety-ridden and prone to outbursts.

Greenville has a beautiful little jewel of a facility, scale-modeled almost exactly on Boston’s legendary Fenway Park (“Green Monster” and all), where these kids dream of someday playing. Fluor Field is a little taste of that dream, a foretelling of possibility, a glimpse of a greater tomorrow. 

So who won our most inspirational fan contest? Unlike sports, there was no definitive outcome. All three finalists were deserving, and the winner was chosen by the slimmest of margins by Drive fans. Her name is Jean Dickson. Jean wrote about her amazing son Cliff, who was born with cerebral palsy but has gone on to do great things (including pitch a no-hitter in Little League) through determination, faith, optimism and sheer guts. I got to meet Cliff and he is a real rock star. Congratulations to his mom from everyone at GUIDEPOSTS and the Greenville Drive.

My admiration goes out to Mary Anne Terminato, who wrote a lyrical story about her father’s giveaway blueberry patch, and Marti Stevens, who told the incredible saga of her husband’s miraculous recovery from a severe brain injury while Marti was nine months pregnant with their daughter Amy. Amy, now a nursing student, accompanied Marti to the game (good luck on that test on Thursday, Amy).

Click below to read all three stories and see a picture of the winner. And don’t forget—inspire us! Tell us your story. I know you have one.

Winner: Clifton C. by Jean Dickson
Finalist: Daddy's Blueberries by Mary Anne Terminato
Finalist: Love and Support All Around by Marti Stevens

Photo: Cliff with his mom and stepdad by Heidi Heilbrunn 

Photos in gallery: Greenville Drive picnic; JDew from the Greenville Drive organization and Edward Grinnan announce winner Jean Dickson; Jean Dickson with her son Clifton and husband; Rosemary Calderalo from GP Development Office with two GP supporters, Charlton Hall (left) and Steve Berwager (right) who live near Greenville, SC; Other finalists were Mary Anne Terminato and Marti Stevens (in blue top).

You can see the full photo gallery from that day on

Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of GUIDEPOSTS Publications.

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