Blog Entry

I don't mean to brag but....

Posted on: April 14, 2010 12:14 am
Edited on: April 14, 2010 12:18 am
 
...tonight was probobly one of the greatest nights of my life. Well, more so my brother's life, but partially mine also. Here's how it went...

My 40 year old brother has epilepsy. It was discovered when he was 6 weeks old when he had his first seizure in his crib and my parents freaked out and rushed him to the hospital. It was devastating for them, but they have managed to live life with it and so has he. But that's not the reason for this blog. You'll see in a second why I mention this.

Now, my brother loves sports. Green Bay Packers football, Wisconsin Badgers anything, Milwaukee Brewers baseball, he even loves coming to my son's little league games. So, it goes without saying that he loves to play sports as well. He is a member of the Special Olympics in our area. They play softball, basketball, bowling, flag football, you name it and they play it. Tonight was the beginning of their basketball season. And it was awesome.

A few weeks ago all the families of the players were told to be at the local high school gym at 7PM on April 13th....tonight. But nobody knew why. They didn't usually play basketball there. Is this just a new venue they can play at? Were they going to play our high school team? Nobody would answer these questions. They just kept saying, "Make sure you're there." Well, all right, if you say so. So the last few days, the anticipation grew and grew. What was going on? Only a few people knew and they were keeping a very good secret. 

So, April 13th rolls around and still no word as to what is going on. But we stopped asking questions anyways because we would get the standard "No comment" response. So we just waited until it was time. It was 7PM and we were now in the school locker room with butterflys doing somersaults in our stomachs. Finally somebody opens the door and tells us we can go into the gym. Ok....thanks. But what is going to happen when we get there? Still no answer. 

So we walk into the gym expecting to see clowns or a bunch of people yelling "SURPRISE" for no apparent reason. But that didn't happen. We opened the doors and there were bleachers packed to the gills with people clapping a cheering for us. They were screaming as loud as they can and we had no idea why. We are asked to move to center court where about 12 police officers are waiting for us. Now I start thinking, "Did I pay that speeding ticket?". Wait, that can't be why we have a bunch of cops here. They didn't lure us here to arrest us. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?? So, it was about this time that one of the cops grabbed a microphone and made the following announcement (This isn't verbatim, but it's close)...

"Attention everybody in the stands. You all know why you are here (huge applause), but these great people down here do not. Should we let them in on the secret? (everybody screams NOT YET!!!!). All right, let me just say a few words and then we can tell them. I just need to say that these people down here are the reason that police officers like me love doing our jobs. I love seeing there faces when we help them, I love seeing there faces when we play sports with them, and now is they time to repay that gratitude. With the help of the Dane County Sheriffs department, the Oregon Wisconsin police force, and a few people within the Special Olympics committee, it brings me great pleasure to show you who you will be playing basketball against tonight.....The Green Bay Packers!!!!"

WHAT? The Packers are here? No way, they've got to be kidding. It's probably some stunt doubles or some crazy smoke and mirror trick. But nope, from the other locker room, out walked James Jones, Jermichael Finley, John Kuhn, Trevor Ford, Nick Collins, Desmond Bishop, and Kraig Lumpkin. Holy crap!!! My brother is going to get to play basketball against some of his heroes!!! All the players started screaming, crying, laughing, chearing, jumping, and yelling all at the same time. The Packers were high fiving, hugging, and jumping with them. I couldn't be happier for him. This was going to be awesome.

Now the game starts and I have my doubts. I mean, these guys were trained athletes and my brother's team was the Special Olympics. Granted, they are athletes in another sport but I'm sure they're alot better at basketball than my bro's team is. But they really made it fun. It was kinda like a Harlem Globetrotters game. They would lower my brother's team's basket to 7ft and raise the Packer's basket to 12ft from time to time. The Packers would try some Alley Oops or some crazy a$$ dunks and the crowd would cheer. The refs would call fouls on the Packers when they weren't doing anything. They would allow my bro's team to have 8 players on the court. All crazy stuff like that. The crowning moment for me was when James Jones allowed my brother to take a dunk to the hoop on him. It was really cool. Nobody really kept score but I like to think that we won. Weather the score was 10-2 or 100-2, my brother's team won.

Everyone hated when the final buzzer sounded and we all expected the Packers to just wave goodbye and walk out the back door. But they didn't do that either. After the game was over, all the Packers stayed on the court and all the kids were brought down so they could meet the guests of honer as well. They stayed around and signed autographs and posed for as many pictures that people wanted. I bet they hung around for 90 minutes after that last buzzer. I have nothing but respect for these 7 guys. They made it an absolutely amazing night for everybody.

As I was sitting back watching my older brother beam with pride, I couldn't help but reflect on how far he has come. Back when we were kids, everybody picked on him because he was different. He wasn't like everybody else so they tried to make him feel like he was worthless. And I was the little brother so there wasn't much I could do except try to protect him. But I was usually just pushed aside because I was the "little" one. But he never let it get to him. He would usually just walk away and I never understood why, until now. He wanted to be the bigger person and let the morons be morons. Well, Mr. Moron, look at my big bro now....he's playing basketball with the Green Bay Packers. And I couldn't be prouder.
Comments

Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: April 15, 2010 9:28 am
 

I don't mean to brag but....

I hope you don't mind, but I copied and printed out this blog to share with a few of my co-workers. 

Of course I don't mind. Let me know what everybody says.



Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: April 15, 2010 8:49 am
 

I don't mean to brag but....

I hope you don't mind, but I copied and printed out this blog to share with a few of my co-workers.  I think we have all come to a concensus.....

1. that the organizers of this event deserve much more credit than what they are probably getting.
2. That the players from the Packers involved are class acts.
3. That your brother and his team are fortunate to live in such a caring community.
4. And that this story does moisten the eyes.  



Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: April 14, 2010 11:47 pm
 

I don't mean to brag but....

Sorry it's taken me this long to get to your blog.  Awesome story ktopp.  It had to be a great day for not only your brother but the whole team, their families, and the whole area you live in.  A thousand kudos to whoever set the whole thing up. 

Players get a bad rap sometimes.  There are a lot of football players that are everyday folks when you talk to them.  Glad to see players taking their time and doing an event like this.  Reminds me of when the Chiefs back in the day had a basketball team and would go play the teachers at local junior high and high schools for charity then stick around and make sure everyone who wanted an autograph got one.  Thanks for reminding mr those days are not gone with some NFL teams.

Great blog ktopp.  One heck of a feel good true story.  Glad you shared it with us.



Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: April 14, 2010 11:04 pm
 

I don't mean to brag but....

That's just too cool! It's so nice to read a pick me up story once in a while rather than all of the negative crap you see in the newspaper and on the news
Thanks for stopping by Mick. I appreciate the comment. It does tug at your heartstrings when you read story like this. I've read it myseld like 10 times since yesterday and it brings a tear to my eye every time. Thanks again!!


Tell Mrs. Rat that I appreciate her saying that. She is welcome to stop by my blog anytime. Hope all went well with your tests the other day, BTW...

BTW  Mrs. Rat enjoyed the read as well.




Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: April 14, 2010 9:49 pm
 

I don't mean to brag but....

BTW  Mrs. Rat enjoyed the read as well.



Since: Jul 16, 2008
Posted on: April 14, 2010 4:42 pm
 

I don't mean to brag but....

That's just too cool! It's so nice to read a pick me up story once in a while rather than all of the negative crap you see in the newspaper and on the news.

Thanks KTOPP!

Mick



Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: April 14, 2010 11:55 am
 

I don't mean to brag but....

That is AWESOME Ktopp.  I couldn't be happier for your brother or for you.  What a charge your brother and his team must have felt when as you said, their heros came out and took the floor.  Great story for how so many of the NFL players really do give back to the community. 
It was absolutly incredible. And with a full house of people in the stands screaming and yelling for them, it was indescribable. I had goosebumps all night. Thanks for the reply RR.

One thing that I failed to mention was that this was a charity event. Every fan that was there had to contribute at least $20 to the Epilepsy Foundation of Wisconsin just to get in the door. But that wasn't the best part. Each one of the Packers players donated $20,000 of their own money to the EFW. So by the end of the night we raised over $150,000 for Epilepsy research. Incredible.



Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: April 14, 2010 11:44 am
 

I don't mean to brag but....

That is AWESOME Ktopp.  I couldn't be happier for your brother or for you.  What a charge your brother and his team must have felt when as you said, their heros came out and took the floor.  Great story for how so many of the NFL players really do give back to the community. 
I'm with you Sports.  My son has Asburgers syndrome, which is a mild form of autisum.  He is a great kid, but just wired differently.  So far, we haven't had too many issues with him getting picked on by other kids, but he doesn't have a ton of friends either.  His best friends are a pair of Autistic twins.  We actually have him in eye therapy to get his eyes to work together, We have seen some slight improvement in his school work, but there is a long way to go.  Good luck



Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: April 14, 2010 1:15 am
 

I don't mean to brag but....

Thanks guys, I appreciate your comments!!

Buc, I did read your blog about your son and the Lightning. I apologize for not leaving a comment, I know that I meant to anyways. It was a great story and I hope that he is doing better now and that he stays that way. Keep us informed.

Sports5, autism is another one of those diseases, like epilepsy, that is not a deadly disease, just one that you wish that God would never have developed. I'm glad that you and your family make the best of it and support your cousins in whatever they do. They need to feel that family love in order to keep moving forward.  



Since: Nov 16, 2009
Posted on: April 14, 2010 1:01 am
 

I don't mean to brag but....

Good story ktopp.  I have 2 cousins with autism, one is very young.  But my older cousin plays basketball, swims, and participates in plays with everyone else at his average, small-town high school.  We and his community jave come together as a family and support him with everything he does.  He even beat some "normal" kids at his district swim meet.  My other younger cousin could read when he was 2.  We are very proud of both of them, and it's always nice to hear stories like this where pro athletes care enough to spend time with small-town folks that don't get a lot of attention.


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