Save Me A Spot
Posted by Jen Lada, Fox 6 Sports
May 20, 2010
This job affords me some incredible opportunities. Being a member of the FOX 6 Sports team means I've been able to witness and report on events and people that many can only admire from a distance. I never take these situations for granted and sincerely appreciate being involved in whatever capacity each permits.
Monday marked just the most recent case as I had the unparalleled privilege to be a part of Aaron Rodgers charity event to benefit the MACC Fund.
The MACC Fund is one of those incomparable organizations that has the curse of being perpetually under-appreciated. This is by no fault of the dedicated individuals involved with this amazing organization. Simply put, the MACC Fund can never be appreciated enough for the tireless efforts its employees and associates are making to help eradicate childhood cancer and blood disorders.
Scattered throughout the crowd of rabid Packers aficionados were the people who I consider the event's real MVPs. They are the families who've been forced to deal with one of life's toughest sentences - the loss of a child. My interactions with these folks have always been touching, fulfilling and enlightening. Once, a family friend and the father of a teenage girl who passed away after a lengthy battle with the disease told me something that really resonated. Yes, his daughter's death was hard - an excruciating pain that can not be completely comprehended by anyone who's never been in that situation. But he also revealed that his daughter's memory didn't have to be the tragic tale of another countless cancer victim. Instead her legacy was much more joyful - as she was represented by all of the MACC Fund's survivors. The hundreds of thousands of other children who benefited from the research and findings his daughter's passing allowed. It was an unbelievably considerate and profound perspective in the midst of an otherwise heart-wrenching ordeal.
Those who sprung for the tickets were not disappointed. In a world where many athletes regurgitate canned and rehearsed responses, the Packers quarterback was refreshingly candid. Aaron addressed a number of topics with in-depth, honest reaction - even some that if reprinted and mass distributed might raise some eyebrows. Personally, I think a lot of the comments made should remain exclusive to those who made the effort to attend and support the MACC Fund's incredible cause but here are a few highlights/revelations:
Aaron stressed the importance of availability and accountability. In his opinion, it is a player's responsibility to attend all of the team activities as they are all intended to better the team as a whole. And then, similarly, he addressed the importance of taking the heat/criticism when one falls short of expectations and duties.
He is never nervous to take the field. Aaron is supremely confident in the preparation he's put in during the week leading up to Sunday's match up. The way the 2009 season ended was disappointing but his self-confidence was not affected by the outcome. One of the toughest realizations was that that combination of players would never take the field together again. He likened the team to a family and admitted that conflict can and does occasionally exist but they try to handle such situations with maturity and civility.
He talked music and his love for tunes at a young age revealing that his mom used to sing and play lullabies and country music when he was a child. Aaron's record label Suspended Sunrise is a product of this passion but also a contingency plan for life after football. His favorite song is Ben Harper's 'Forever' and he's envious of John Mayer's guitar skills though not his tabloid reputation. He appreciated my affinity for Keith Urban but gave the audience a thumbs-down when I mentioned fellow country crooner Kenny Chesney.
He commented on his recent foray into the Twittersphere (@AaronRodgers12) - how he originally thought the social networking site was "stupid" but now he appreciates its role in communicating with his fans - where the message is less likely to be misconstrued or misquoted.
His favorite book is The Bible and he tries to read it every day not just when life's challenges and struggles surface. His favorite movie is The Princess Bride which he admits he's caught flack for but says he and his childhood friends can recite every line from the film and it is simply a great story.
Rodgers' answers and poise on this night were certainly admirable. And I honestly didn't think I could respect Aaron more than I did when we wrapped our hour-long question and answer segment. But I was wrong.
My friend, the father of that young girl who passed, was there that night - enjoying the opportunity to reconnect with many of his MACC Fund family members and revel in the charity's big night. He was one of several attendees brought up on stage where he caught a football thrown by the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. The evening was already a smashing success for him and his grateful family.
And then he asked Aaron to sign the football he'd caught. He wondered if he'd make it out to his daughter. It isn't shocking that Rodgers obliged. What caught me off guard was the dedication he made. It wasn't until after Aaron left that I first saw the autograph... and the simple yet sweet message that brought tears to this father's eyes: "To Cheri the angel. Save me a spot. - Aaron Rodgers"
I hope that Packers fans realize how lucky they are to have such an upstanding young man leading their team on the field every weekend. I hope they acknowledge the challenges that were thrust upon him and appreciate the maturity with which he handled them. I hope they stand behind the kid and respect him not only for his incredible talent but for his intelligence and honesty, poise and compassion.
My job has afforded me the chance to watch Aaron Rodgers play football for the last few seasons. But I am truly thankful for the opportunity to see the other side of this impressive young man. And pass on some of what I witnessed to you.
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