Peyton Manning is an all-around great guy. There’s no disputing that. The talent with which he plays the quarterback position is superb, his commercials are downright hilarious (see really high voice Peyton Manning), and his rapport with fans has always been known to be as classy as they come. He literally puts the “MAN” in Manning.
A recent testament to the future first ballot Hall Of Famer’s thoughtfulness and generosity came by way of a letter he received from a long-time fan, Indiana native, Kari Barnett Bollig. It’s quite certain that Manning receives thousands of letters each week from adoring fans, but this one was different. This one came from a woman battling Stage 4 breast cancer, whose every waking moment hangs in the balance at the cancer’s whim, and whose future is uncertain with every passing day.
With nothing to lose, Kari Bollig set out to write letters to people she’s admired and been inspired by throughout her life. The first letter she mailed was to Peyton Manning. A few days later, Kari’s phone rang. Manning had received her letter, and wanted to meet the 45-year-old who now resides in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
What happened next was no doubt a dream come true for Bollig, and a reflection of the kind of man that Manning is. The Denver Broncos quarterback offered to fly Kari and her family to Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium for the team’s season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. And that was just the beginning.
Kari’s lifelong friend, Dana Hunsinger Benbow, recounted her friend’s mesmerizing experience and first-class treatment in an article equally as heartfelt as Bollig’s letter to Peyton for the Indianapolis Star:
“I kind of stammered and stuttered around,” Kari said. “And then I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”
It was no joke. This past weekend, Kari was treated to two days at Mile High Stadium in Denver, where she watched Broncos players get their team photos taken Saturday, sat in on walk-through practices, took a tour of the facility.
She was given tickets to the Broncos vs. Ravens game Sunday and sideline passes for before the game.
“He walked right over after he got his picture taken,” Kari said. “It was so sweet because he shakes my hand and says, ‘I’m Peyton Manning.’ It was cute. It was kind of like, ‘I know who you are Peyton.'”
Peyton spent a good ten minutes with Bollig and her family, easing her mind from the daily fight she faces, albeit just for a little while. Really, really, remarkable stuff.
“It was real easy and laid back, not at all nervewracking,” she said. “He’s welcoming. He’s like a gentle giant. It was such a personal moment. It was a once in a lifetime thing.”
As Manning was pulled away with his teammates for pregame preparation, he hugged Kari closely and quietly told her, “Keep fighting, Kari. I’ll be praying for you.”
And we’re saying prayers for you too, Kari. We’re so glad you got to meet one of your heroes, and stand resolute with you in the fight against cancer.
Whether you root for or against him on Sundays, there’s simply no way you can’t admire Peyton Manning and all that he’s done for the game of football and his fans. Truly a class act through and through.
[via Indianapolis Star]