School: seventh-grader at Churchville Middle School
Accomplishment: Collected and delivered sports equipment for Cuban children during recent mission trip
Key to Awesomeness: Grey Miller arrived in Güines, Cuba this past December with a suitcase full of baseballs and gloves, soccer balls, pumps and needles. Because of the embargo the U.S. has placed on Cuba since the 1960s, Miller knew that certain items are hard to come by—or expensive to purchase—in the socialist country. And being an avid sports fan and athlete, Miller wanted to take something that would benefit kids just like him.
Miller, a member of Elmhurst Presbyterian Church, was in Cuba for nearly a week as part of a mission trip to the congregation’s sister church in Güines. In order to travel, Grey and his mom, Karen, had to be granted special licenses from the U.S. government. Their hosts, Rev. Yampier and Adriana Sánchez Bravo, arranged for special visas once they arrived in Cuba.
Travelers must be 13 to travel to Cuba. Fortunately, Grey celebrated his 13th birthday in early December, just weeks before his departure.
During his stay there, Miller, who admits his Spanish is a bit rusty, was able to communicate well with the kids in the neighborhood where he stayed.
“They spoke English, because of English class,” said Miller. “And I played a lot of baseball with them.”
In fact, while playing baseball with some neighborhood children, Grey noticed the ball they were using wasn’t really a baseball at all. It was made of cheap plastic, and during play, it fell apart. Miller was able to give them a couple new baseballs for future games.
Besides the sporting equipment, the group brought vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medical supplies. These items were donated to the church, which in turn distributes them as needed. While these items are available in Cuba, they are often very expensive.
“A bottle of vitamins can cost half a month’s salary, so anything we can do to help is phenomenal,” Karen Miller explained.
As for Grey, he knows now that when he returns to Cuba some day, he has some teammates ready to play.
“Yeah, I’d go back [to Cuba],” he says without hesitation. “They’re really nice people.”