This trip to Utah for therapy turned into a lot more than just therapy! So, I ask you:
What is Thursday's Heroes?
And, who was last week's Thursday's Hero?
As a way to serve those in the community, in 2007 the BYU Football Team (a team we highly revere over in our household), honors someone who has been going through a tough time...someone who is disadvantaged on some level. They do it every week at practice. They've had many different people come as a "hero," and this past week, Samantha was asked to come. Pretty cool. It was kind of crazy how it happened. And hearing it from different people it gets more confusing, so I'm still a bit unsure, exactly, how it all came to be. Samantha was not originally on their list...it just happened...and we'd have to thank Scott and Annie Green for making it possible. No matter how it happened, if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have been there.
Thursday's Hero, last week, was actually on Friday. Marcus (yes, he flew out for it), Callie, Samantha, Bryan, my mom and dad, and I went to the athletic building. We walked around for a little bit before we moved upstairs to meet Cort Trejo and Cutter Mendenhall. (Cutter was getting some service hours for his merit badge, and Callie for sure made sure those hours counted!)
They had a ton of cool stuff in the athletic building. This wall was of all the NFL helmets that BYU players had been drafted to and played for. We were happy to see the Detroit Lions up there.
Of course there was something for all the state championships.
And the wall along the staircase is dedicated to all the Thursday's Heroes. Samantha's picture will be up there permanently one day. I was touched to see all these people -- children, adults...all dealing with different issues -- up on that wall. Each of those people represent more than an individual, they represent an entire community. I felt honored and privileged to know Sammy will up there too.
The entrance to the locker room.
Sammy was happy in the locker room. A few of the players walked through and said, "Oh there you are Sammy. We've been waiting to see you!" They gave her 5 and welcomed her. It was pretty cool.
The Weight Room with Daddy. Sammy's trying to look tough, but I told her, with those curls, you just can't look as tough as you'd like. So she really worked the facial expressions.
And Callie in the weight room with Cutter trying to show her amazing strength. Cutter was thoroughly impressed.
Then off to the practice field. We were outside, but it wasn't too cold. Sammy and Callie had a fun time running around out there.
Marcus took the time to explain the rules of football...but I think Samantha was more interested in the different colors of jerseys. Blue, white, green...
I'm not sure why I thought this was so cute, but Callie really wanted to check out the "fake grass" and so I asked Cutter if he'd take her over there. She grabbed his hand and off they went. Again, Callie was pretty happy to be with him and he definitely got some good service hours with us!
After practice, the team huddled around while Bronco talked to them. As directed, we waited behind until they were done.
All of a sudden, the got up and huddled around Samantha and the rest of our family. Bronco first approached Samantha but then turned it over to the big guys.
It's a feeling that is a little hard to explain. As they all surrounded her and cheered, my eyes filled up with tears. I was so overwhelmed in the moment. They were cheering for my little girl. These are the guys we cheer for, and now, they were cheering for her. And as they talked to her and she looked at them in shock -- I mean, she's a little girl surrounded by HUGE guys -- I felt so so so proud to be her mom. I've always known she is worth cheering for. And now, all these guys were surrounding her with their clapping, cheers, and smiles. It was awesome.
They presented Sammy with some BYU loot and then we all signed the BYU flag that is carried out on the field before each game. Callie became shy all of a sudden and her name looked more like chicken scratches. The pressure was just too great for her, even a smiley face was too stressful while all these guys watched. I helped Sammy with her name, and before the huddle broke, Callie shouted out "1, 2, 3" and we all yelled "BYU!" Samantha loved that. My only regret from that day -- if I can even call it that -- was that I couldn't get a picture of her face during it all. But, I have to say, getting the faces of those big, tough, football players smiling at my baby girl may be just as great.
Before they left, they all got a fist bump from both Samantha and Callie.
Bronco and his family also put together a little gift for Samantha and Cutter presented it to her.
Samantha as one of the Thursday's Heroes was, plainly said, awesome. Have I overused that word yet? I'm glad my parents and Bryan were able to be there with us. I'm so glad Marcus flew out for the weekend. I'm impressed that the BYU Football team even has this program. It's a small act of service that really means a lot to the families they share themselves with. We were told that we are now a part of the BYU Football family, and we felt that while we were there.
Bronco talked with us for a while after about Samantha, asking questions about her story. He was sincere and kind. I suppose that is to be expected. But I have always been impressed with Bronco's integrity as a person and coach. I tell you what...the Women's Football Clinic I attended a few years back was pretty awesome, but this...this tops it all.
Samantha showing off her tough self. Maybe one day she'll be able to push hard enough to move that baby!
After a long day, Callie was ready for bed. I can't believe how big she looks here. She's such a little girl now. I can't even believe it.
Why are we so loyal to BYU Football?
1. We love BYU. Last night Marcus and I were both talking about how our years at BYU, before and after meeting each other, were some of our best years. Sure, life is great now and we wouldn't trade it for anything. But our time at BYU is filled with fun and incredible memories.
2. BYU Football, to us, represents something more than just football. Other than the fact that it's Marcus' passion, this team is something special. Though the players may change, the mission is the same. This team represents hard work and a true striving to become more. Whether it's on the field or cheering around a little girl in a stroller, the purpose is to become better and make those around them better. The BYU motto, Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve seems to truly motivate their actions. I'm not saying that every BYU football player exemplifies that every moment of their day. But what I am saying is that the team as an entity strives for that and they have a head coach who leads them in that direction.
That is something we will always be proud of and for that, we will always be loyal Cougar fans.
3. Oh, and they cheered for Sammy. Yeah, that pretty much seals the deal for us.