My Proudest Day As A Hoosier
Dec. 11, 2009
Courtesy of Amy J. Metheny MD, Vice President I-Association
The pride and honor I felt after spending one afternoon at IU's football practice woke up my sleeping Hoosier Pride heart and restored a deep sense of loyalty and appreciation for my University and its football program.
Eight days before its first home game, the IU football team invited a friend of mine, a 10-year-old boy with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, to come watch practice and hang out with the team.
Calvin, the 10-year-old boy with Hodgkin's had just lost all of his thick black hair and was starting to feel the effects of chemotherapy. Accompanied by his mother, younger brother and friend, Calvin was treated like royalty from the time we all arrived at the practice field in Bloomington.
Mark Deal, Associate Director of football operations and an I-Board member, had organized Calvin's visit and upon arrival, presented Calvin with an IU bag filled with an IU football signed by all the coaches and players, an IU football t-shirt and hat.
Mark also presented all the boys with the current media guide and black markers to get autographs after practice. The excitement for the boys began to grow! As they watched from inside the practice field, trainers came by on golf carts and took Gatorade orders for the kids.
Harold Mauro, Director of football operations came over and offered to take a picture of all of us, then told Calvin he could come join them on the sidelines at a game this year when he was feeling well enough. It just kept getting better!
As practice came to an end all hundred-plus players began heading toward the locker room but stopped first to engage Calvin and the other boys. The players waited their turn to sign hats, jerseys and media guides to the absolute joy of those boys and their mother who watched from just a few feet away.
As I sat and observed this incredible moment, I was struck by a couple of things; first every player stopped and waited to talk to Calvin and sign his IU attire. Not one ran by into the locker room without taking time out for this boy they didn't know. As Calvin stood there glowing with 200 and 300 pound guys hovering over him, he pulled up his shirt to show the players his central line where the chemo is given.
I was so impressed by the maturity of the players. They responded by patting Calvin on the head or back, telling him they would pray for him and encouraging him to "hang in there". I absolutely guarantee it was a moment Calvin will never forget.
After Coach Bill Lynch finished talking to the media, he came over and spent time with Calvin and the boys also signing hats and shirts and graciously posing for pictures, even though he was already late for an alumni function.
The boys then were allowed to see the new weight room in the new North End Zone facility as well as go onto the field at Memorial Stadium. They touched "The Rock", talked to players soaking in ice baths after practice and ran the entire length of the football field. As their mom watched on in amazement, she stated that this is a boys dream come true and was so grateful to the IU football for arranging such a day for her son.
As we left the stadium, one of the managers just finishing up on the practice field shouted over to Calvin, "Hey Calvin...catch". He had tossed Calvin the practice ball stamped with "IU" on it. Calvin just beamed and then tried to kick the ball through the uprights!
Sitting at Nick's for dinner after this incredible afternoon, Calvin looked over at me and said, "I had a really great time today". Calvin is a gentle boy of few words, but that simple statement said it all. At that moment I couldn't have been prouder to be a Hoosier. Karen, Calvin's mom said she was now an IU football fan forever.
I'm as competitive as the next person, and want to see our football team win, but winning off the field is more important and where it has to start. IU can be proud that our football team is doing it right. As another great example, this year's football team has taken on as its community volunteer work, Riley Children's Hospital, the same hospital Calvin is now being treated.
The day after Calvin visited the IU team, he showed up at Riley in his IU football jersey covered with the autographs of all the players and coaches and sat in a chair as he waited for his chemotherapy.
Then after a long night of suffering the effects of this chemo treatment Calvin had to be admitted to the hospital for close observation. Calvin and his family will have many difficult days ahead, but for that one brief moment standing on the IU football practice field, Calvin forgot about being a 10-year-old boy with cancer. That day, Calvin felt like a champion...and he is!
To his family and friends, it's not how many wins this IU football team has at the end of the season that will define its success, for they are already champions in our book!
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