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February 14, 2018 / tgexp

Boomer’s Super Bowl LII Adventure

Thanks to the funds donated to The Gleason Initiative Foundation, Team Gleason was able to send Michael “Boomer” and wife, Ali to Super Bowl LII. Here’s his story:

The joke in Philadelphia is, “I hope the Eagles win the Super Bowl in my lifetime.” I wrote the Eagles a letter in 2017, “please win one in my lifetime, better be this season, as I’m running out of time.”  After Carson Wentz got hurt in December, I worried, but after the Eagles defeated the Vikings for the NFC Championship, I scurried. My first call was to Team Gleason to see if there was any chance of getting a wheelchair seat at the US Bank Stadium for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, MN. My heart soared when I learned that I would be able to safely attend the big event with my wife thanks to the generosity of Team Gleason. Once that hurdle was cleared, we began working on the rest of the logistics.

Second only to tickets was lodging. Securing a handicap accessible room in sold out Minneapolis, or even within 50 miles, wasn’t going to be easy. We fired up the friend network and my wife’s college buddy, a sports agent in Minneapolis, delivered a wonderful room thanks to the manager of the Sheraton Woodbury St. Paul.  After my wife realized that the portable lift wouldn’t fit under the platform beds that are standard in most hotels, the manager worked with his engineer to lift the bed 6 inches of the floor. Presto! A couple of phone calls to the Super Bowl LII Mobility team and we had secured a disabled parking spot and an escort to our seats at the stadium. Next, we hired a caregiver to drive me the 760 miles from Wayne, PA to Wilmette, IL in my wheelchair van.  With tickets, lodging and travel accounted for the only remaining hurdle was time. So I called up my uncle to stay with the kids and pets, and hit the road on January 29th.

We rolled into Minneapolis around dinnertime on February 3rd. The bitter cold kept us holed up most of the day on the 4th, but we landed in our parking spot at 5:00 pm and were safely nestled into our wheelchair seats for the start of Super Bowl LII at 5:30 pm. The excitement was palpable and amidst the 67,000 or so fans, we managed to run into friends from both Pennsylvania and Illinois.  Every play was filled with anticipation, every turn of events more exciting than the one before. The half-time show kept our energy up and the Eagles fans that let us cut to the front of the companion bathroom line restored our faith in humanity.

There were some bumps along the way. Snow falling on the 6 hour drive to and from Minneapolis. My mother-in-law getting a nasty cold, which my wife picked up the day before departure and then, despite a few gallons of anti-bacterial gel and countless facemasks, found its way into my lungs just as the game kicked off.  The one hour (or more) crowd march to the only exit from US Bank, with our fearless escort keeping the fans from getting too close to my wheelchair. Those trials were worth it in the end when, against all odds, the Eagles defeated the Patriots 41-33 in a stunning offensive spectacle.  I am so grateful it happened in my lifetime and that Team Gleason made it possible for me to see in person.  When you have ALS it’s easy to say that something is too much work, or isn’t worth it, but if its important to you, it’s worth it. No White Flags!

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