A dream come true
Rachel Rello, 9, of Slatington, has a private dance with Disney Princess Belle at Disney World. She was the recipient of a dream by Dream Come True - Blue Ridge Chapter.
Was meeting Yankees star player Derek Jeter the best part of 9-year-old Rachel Rello's dream or was it dancing with Disney Princess Belle at Disney World?
Jeter is in the top of the sporting world and some say that this Yankees captain leads a charmed life.
Not only is he Rachel's favorite baseball player, he is America's number one favorite sports star. He is number one with men, Baby Boomers and people living in the east.
While many watch him on television or from a seat at a stadium, not too many can say that Jeter pulled him or her onto his knee like Rachel can.
On top of having that distinct honor, Jeter turned around and gave her his well-used bat that has his name engraved on it.
Rachel loves baseball, and Jeter is her favorite player and the Yankees are "her" team.
Competing in Florida for her top vote was Rachel's dance with Disney Princess Belle, from the fairytale, "Beauty and the Beast." Belle is Disney's fifth princess.
Rachel was not only engrossed in her dance she also was fascinated with Belle's bright yellow gown.
For Rachel, her mother said it was impossible to know which event made Rachel happiest because her smile beams in every direction.
Rachel and her parents, Karen and Bob Rello, and her 12-year-old sister, Sarah, all of Slatington, were transported to this magical time for Rachel's dream to be fulfilled by Dream Come True - Blue Ridge Chapter.
Rachel, who is in the multiple disabilities class at Kratzer Intermediate Unit in the Parkland School District, cannot speak, but that doesn't stop this pint-sized cutie from letting everyone know when she is happy.
Her smile says it all.
Rachel has an extremely rare error in her number 9 chromosome. She is missing the Q petal, which has resulted in several disabilities. It is likely the cause of her club foot, on which she has undergone three surgeries so far to help her walk better. She also suffers from thyroid problems, for which she takes medication. She also has tubes in her ears.
Rachel's dream began with a flight to Tampa at the end of March, where the family spent a few days at the Yankees grapefruit spring training site. While there, the family was headquartered at the Main Sail All Suites Hotel.
"Rachel loves baseball," said Karen. "She is happiest watching baseball on television and Jeter is definitely her favorite player."
The family was invited into the Yankees dugout where Rachel met Jeter and manager Joe Girardi, who also took the time to get several players to sign a souvenir baseball. Among those who signed her ball were left fielder Brett Gardner, Rick "Goose" Gossage, Mick Kelleher, first base coach Curtis Granderson, Girardi and Bill Hall, who just signed on to the Yankees' minor league.
"When Jeter came in the dugout, he stooped down to look in her face and she launched herself at him," said Karen. "He just grabbed her and put her on his knee as he squatted down."
Karen added that he posed for several photographs and then turned to leave, but then stepped back and gave Rachel his bat.
"He seemed a little nervous about giving up his bat," she added, "but it all worked out. He hit a home run with his new bat."
Before Rachel was able to take the bat, it was put into a cloth "sock" and a box for safekeeping.
Karen described Jeter's new bat as black and very shiny with gold printing. His name was imprinted on it.
The bat that Rachel has is one that has seen some use, but likely looked like the new one before Jeter's use.
After the meet and greet, the Yankees treated the family to lunch, plus gave Rachel a Yankees bag, that held a hat, t-shirt, and miniature Yankees car.
After the blissful meeting with Jeter, the family piled into a rental car for the Palisades Resort at Lake Austin, which Karen described as "amazing." The hotel was quiet and nearly brand new, and close to Disney attractions, where Rachel met the Disney princesses and had her private dance with Belle.
"Our trip was memorable," said Karen. "It was a well-needed break. Our family enjoyed it so much. No one wanted to come home."