When three friends on a “bucket list” baseball trip found themselves in the middle of a historical tragedy, they discovered God’s protection and mercy through the kindness of strangers.
Sounds like a movie trailer, right?
Well, it really happened to three men from Woodstock, Georgia. Ken Harriss, Todd Trainer, and Ty Wheeler became friends after attending the same Sunday School class and serving together in the church choir at First Baptist Church Woodstock. They soon discovered that they had more things in common, specifically their love of baseball. One particular night after practice, they discussed taking a quick trip to New York to take in the city and check a mutual item off each of their bucket lists: a baseball game in Yankee Stadium. The trio made it to the Big Apple using buddy passes, free airline tickets provided by Todd’s wife Cindy, who worked for Delta Airlines. After enjoying a day of sightseeing, the three made their way to the stadium. As luck would have it, the game was rained out, but the trip wouldn’t be a total loss. The men had made plans to have breakfast the next morning, September 11, 2001, at the top of the World Trade Center.
When they made it back to their hotel after the Yankees rainout, Todd checked the available times that they were allowed to fly back on the buddy passes. What had once been a wide-open schedule before the game had now been reduced to one available flight: 8:30 a.m. the next morning. After the rainout and having to miss the World Trade Center breakfast, the three friends sat in disappointment on their plane as it rolled onto the runway for their trip home to Atlanta—then suddenly had to return to the gate. Shortly after, they found themselves among the thousands forced to evacuate LaGuardia International Airport. With hotels already booked up and a dwindling supply of taxi cabs, the men were approached by a lady they’d never met and were asked if they’d like to share a cab, the last taxi leaving the airport that day.
While trying to formulate a plan, Ken, Todd, and Ty ended up at the woman’s home in the Bronx. They would spend the next two and a half days getting to know her and her husband, who shared their affinity for baseball. Finally, on the third day, they were able to catch a ride to Penn Station, where they boarded an Amtrak train to the farthest point south they could manage to book: Richmond, Virginia. From there, Todd’s father made the eight-hour trip from Atlanta to usher the young men home.
What was a tragic day in American history could have been even more catastrophic for the Harriss, Trainer, and Wheeler families. Had it not been for God’s protection and provision, as well as the kindness of strangers, the day could have ended much differently for the trio from Woodstock. Thankfully, they rejoiced in the knowledge that their Heavenly Father is still in the miracle business every day, and especially on that particular day, Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
Written by Dr. Ty Wheeler. He has earned degrees in nutrition and pharmacy from Mercer University and the University of Georgia. He is the author of 5 Christian fiction and nonfiction works including his latest, “Dawn’s Early Light”, and lives in Woodstock with his wife and daughter.
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