Ninety-year-old Ethel Wilson is easily one of the Atlanta Braves biggest fans. On Sunday, May 5, Ethel’s daughters and their families took her to see her very first Braves Game at Turner Field, when the Braves took on the Mets.
When her daughter, Kathy Wilson Gilkey offered to buy her a Brian McCann jersey to wear to the game (her favorite player), she said, “I don’t want to hurt the others’ feelings.”
There were some wonderful surprises planned for Ethel by members of her family that helped to make this one of the best days of her life that she can remember. The first surprise that meant more to her than anything else was that 20 of her family members went with her to the game. The next surprise was when her family surprised her with a ride in a stretch limousine for the ride to Atlanta.
“I rode in it to Dublin. They forgot I have vertigo,” said Ethel. When they got to Dublin, she got out and she rode the rest of the way by car, as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were thrilled when they got to get in the limo for the trip to Turner Field.
Ethel was overwhelmed by the care and attention she received when she arrived at Turner Field. She has COPD and vertigo and was thinking how she was going to be able to get around the large stadium. Ethel did not have to worry about anything. She was escorted by wheelchair wherever she needed to go.
“I didn’t expect to have VIP treatment. They were wonderful to me,” said Wilson.
There are exciting things going on all the time at the game that people watching it on T.V. don’t get to see, such as kid cams and dance cams, that zoom in on people in the stands and displays adorable young brave fans or someone dancing on camera for everyone to see. There is a cannon that goes off every time the Braves make a run. When the cannon is fired it shoots sparks and smoke up into the air.
This superfan’s name was flashed across the billboard ticker for everyone to see for being 90 years old and attending her first game.
Ethel took everything in and focused on the game, as she always does when she is watching the Braves on T.V. at home.
A great big smile never left her face. She thoroughly enjoyed herself as she cheered for her favorite team.
“I was just in awe the whole time. The inside and outside of the stadium is so large!” she exclaimed.
Ethel Wilson at her home
“The highlight of the whole experience was being with my family,” she stated.
It rained on the way up to Atlanta. Ethel worried that the game was going to be rained out, however, the rain stopped when they got there and it didn’t rain again until they left. The Braves beat the Mets 7 to 2.
“I don’t miss a game if I can help it,” she quipped. I have always loved sports. They were seated up in the stand above third base. Everyone was dancing. “I didn’t stand up, but I was raising my arms up in the air.”
Two of her favorite players are Brian McCann and Chipper Jones. She was unable to see them because McCann was on the disabled list and Jones has retired.
She grew a deep love for the team in the 1990’s while her son, Doug, one of her six children, was living with her. They would watch every game together. Since Doug’s passing in 2009, Ethel continues to cheer them on in his memory.
She is a very important part of this family as her daughters and other family members can attest to the fact that she is the matriarch, the strength and backbone of their family. They are all inspired by her spunk and love her very much. “She has more spunk than someone half her age,” said Kathy.
Ethel shines through with resilience and determination.
She lives in the home her late husband, Don built in rural Surrency, a good half hour from “town”; yet her daughters will attest that if a Braves game is on, she can make the trip in fifteen minutes.
The 90 year old enjoys her life to the full.
“I have a wonderful family and I love them. I am very proud of all of them.
I am blessed. I am so happy. God has been with me and has given me the strength I needed when my husband died and then when my son died. Ethel was only 48 when her husband, Don Wilson died.
God has stuck with me through it all. When something bad happens, I pray to the Lord to give me strength. It is good to know there is a place you can go to help you deal with it,” she said.
Ethel has a small garden and really enjoys quilting. She is a member of Zion Baptist Church. She loves Appling County and has written a poem about living in Baxley.
She has spent her life farming, gardening and living off the land, growing not only the food she eats, but also a family of six children, 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.