On Thursday, Jan. 14, another one of these opportunities presented itself. It started with a call to the paper from someone who said that they had a family member who played in the NFL and was in Litchfield visiting his grandma. I gave Kristy Sanders a call back and she explained the situation a little more.
She explained that her great nephew, Zac Kerin, had played for the Minnesota Vikings practice squad last season, but had made the big club this season. To be perfectly honest, you can count the number of NFL game's I've seen this season on one hand, with plenty of fingers to spare, so I had to do a quick Google search to see if she was pulling my leg.
She wasn't. Zac had played his college ball for Toledo and made it into four games for the Vikings this year on the offensive line, probably another reason I'd never heard of the young man because that position doesn't get a whole lot of publicity unless something goes wrong.
As I looked up Zac's bio, Kristy told me that he was in town visiting his grandmother, Janis Wise, and that Zac's dad, Todd, had grown up in Litchfield and was an LHS graduate. That was more than enough for me to be interested in doing a picture for the paper. Mary's grandma and grandpa set a standard that when people call, we go and we proudly carry on that tradition today. Plus, it's not everyday that an NFL player finds his way to Montgomery County. Kristy told me that the family was planning on meeting at the Moonlight Y in Hillsboro that night and asked if I'd be willing to come over and take a photo. I said I'd be glad to and the deal was done.
My mind went to the possibility of bringing Mary and Grace along for the assignment, hoping in large part to get dinner out of the deal. We've been trying to eat at home more to save our money and waistline, but I thought I could coax Mary with the Y's garlic dressing, which is one of her favorites.
I also hoped that the possibility would arise that I could introduce Grace to Zac. One of our goals this year is to raise INAD awareness and to continue giving Grace as many unique life experiences as possible. It's for a special cause, so I'm only slightly ashamed that I was willing to use my position at the paper to indirectly benefit my family.
I was a little nervous as we made our way to the Y, worrying that Zac wouldn't want to be bothered with some small town newspaper guy, let alone his wife and daughter. I promised myself that I would only talk to him about Grace if it felt right.
We were met at the door by Kristy, who said she felt like she knew us through the stories about Grace in the paper. Grace even gave her a big smile when Kristy mentioned how pretty Grace looked, something that never fails to bring a grin to my little girl's face.
After that, she introduced us to Zac, who seemed a little embarrassed about all the attention he was getting, but couldn't have been nicer. I took a nice photo of he and his grandmother, that will run in The Journal-News soon with a little bit of info about Litchfield's shoestring connection to the NFL.
As we talked with Zac a little more, I seized the opportunity to bring up Grace. Again he was gracious and seemed to be interested in Grace's story and our journey. I asked him if I could take a quick photo of him with Mary and Grace, which he agreed to, and we gave him a gracelet to remember Grace by. He said that he would hang it from the rear view mirror of his truck, since he had previously tried to wear a similar bracelet in honor of a friend, but had it snap due to the fact that his wrists are bigger than most people's biceps.
After the pictures, we thanked Zac for his time and Kristy for giving us a call. It very well could break Grandpa John's green and gold heart, but we will be rooting for the Vikings when next year's NFL season begins. I know the opportunity probably wasn't a big deal for Zac, who was about as humble as you can get, but the chance to meet a NFL player in our hometown is the kind of experience that you can't buy and what our Grace-Filled Journey is all about.
|Mary, Grace and our newest friend on our Grace-Filled Journey, Zac Kerin of the Minnesota Vikings.|