On May 30th, cancer survivor and Omnitrans coach operator Marianne Rose performed the National Anthem at the Inland Empire 66ers baseball game. For Marianne it was an emotional moment. It was a prayer for our country and a heartfelt tribute to her 88-year-old father , Paul Ninichuck, a Marine Captain and Korean War Veteran.
“It meant so much to me that Dad was able to see this,” said Marianne. “He is a humble man who came here from Russia–I am the first generation American in my family. He was a pilot, a ‘Flying Peon,’ instilled with a deep love and respect for this county. I am so, so proud of him. He always taught us how precious freedom is and how truly blessed we are to live here. This was my way of giving back to him and to all who fought and preserved our freedom.”
Also special to Marianne were the countless hours she spent with her son Jonathan in preparing for her performance. Jonathan is autistic, and being able to share her love of music with him was especially sweet to her.
“He would play a pretend horn and accompany me while I practiced,” laughed Marianne. “I loved it! When I finally performed it at the game, he stood in the stands and cheered. It meant everything to me.”
The day of her performance, she was all nerves. Bernie, the Inland Empire 66ers mascot, gave her an encouraging hug and a big thumbs up. When she finally opened her mouth to sing, her emotion was apparent to everyone watching.
“Everything I was feeling and was grateful for came flooding out of me,” she said. “It’s a powerful song, and I wanted everyone to really understand what those words meant.”
Afterwards, several of the team players came up to shake her hand. “I’ve never heard it performed that emotionally before,” one of them told her. “Thank you.”
– Juno Kughler Carlson
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