Thoughts and Reflections of our Bison 2013 NCAA Championship Weekend in Frisco, TX When we received a call from Chad Stark that he had gotten us 4 tickets to the game, we were so excited. We had no clue then what was awaiting us as we joined the Bison Nation in Frisco on January 4th through 6th. As a backdrop, our 10 year old son Jordan has been fighting Cystic Fibrosis his entire life. He developed a series of lung infections that he had great difficulty fighting off that left his lungs severely obstructed and damaged. So much so, that without a double lung transplant, he is not expected to live much beyond 12 months. After searching for a Transplant Center that would consider Jordan (there are limited Center’s that will do lung transplants on children) , we were accepted in September by Dr. Mallory and the team at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. We are so thankful for the offer but it required us to have Jordan on site in Houston within 1 hour of the hospital to Thrilled to be in Frisco! be listed, and for him to remain in Houston until a donor was found and for three month following what we prayed would be successful surgery. We made the decision to temporarily relocate our family to Houston and in order to reduce costs, to tow our 5th wheel RV down to an RV Park about 12 minutes away from Texas Children’s. On October 24th, 2012, Jordan was officially listed for transplant. He has been actively listed ever since and there are no other children waiting in Houston in his size or age class. We have been told that the average wait time for a donor set of lungs to become available averages between 3‐4 months. January 24th will be the date where we have been on the list for 3 months. Our family has been living in Houston since October 21st, 2012. My wife Annette, along with Jordan and Jesse, and I have tried to treat our time there as an adventure and part of the Journey that we know Jordan and our family must go through together. We have met so many wonderful people while in Houston, and have been blessed in so many ways from our friends in Fargo. As we prepared to leave for Frisco, we honestly thought we were just getting to go to a Bison football game! We had no idea what laid in store for us at the end of our four hour drive from Houston to Frisco. After the call Jordan getting his from Chad Stark on Christmas Eve and posting the story of what led Chad to find lungs ready for tickets for us on Facebook and Caring Bridge, as Chad said, the story went game! “viral”. Robin Huebner of the Forum picked up on the story and wrote a wonderful article that was placed in the Thursday, January 3rd edition of the Forum. http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/385181/ From that, people started emailing and posting
links to the story all over. On Friday morning we found out that some of the Bison players had read the story and saw the video of Jordan and were tweeting links as examples of Bison Pride. Jordan was so thrilled to hear of players mentioning his name. Then we arrived in Frisco. Upon arrival, Norma Borgenson with the NDSU Alumni Association (whom we had never met) wrote to us and told us that our room was taken care of at the La Quinta Hotel in Plano, TX for 2 nights. It was more than that. As we entered our room it was decked out with ribbons and balloons, all in Bison colors. There were a couple of baskets on the beds with all sorts of Bison gear, from pom poms to a Bison poster signed by Coach Craig Bohl. There was candy and snacks and a wonderful assortment of Bison items. In addition Norma told us that people had given her money and they had an envelope with cash in it that should cover all of our meals and expenses while we were there. We couldn’t believe what was happening. That night we went to the Pep Rally and along with 9,000 other Bison fans had a wonderful time. Other than Jordan’s feet getting cold because of his lack of circulation, we had a great time and were so pumped for the next morning. Chad Stark had invited us to tailgate with he and his group called the “Grillmasters” so arrangements were made to meet Chad the next morning. Chad warned Annette that night Having a great time at Bison Pep that he didn’t know what to expect as “this thing is going viral and I have Rally so many people coming up to me who want to do something”. The next morning we got Jordan up as early as possible and completed his 45 minutes of lung treatment and therapy. He was too excited to eat anything so at about 8:30 we started out for Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. We arrived just before 9:00 and found Chad and the entire Grillmasters group. We had never met Chad before so had a very nice time meeting him while he presented Jordan and Jesse with their “must have” official Bison head gear for the day! The boys loved their new Bison fur hats and horns and wore them with pride. Jordan enjoyed talking with Chad one Talking football with Chad on one for a little bit while chowing down on some delicious barbeque that was grilled up by true Jordan and Jess meet Chad Stark “Grillmasters”.
Chad went on to introduce us to many of his fellow players and friends. I have never seen so many championship rings in one place! Former Bison players began to introduce themselves to Jordan, sign the back of his jersey, and wish him well. We all enjoyed meeting Some of the Bison Legends and Grillmasters so many of the legends, including getting to see one of our all‐time Bison favorites and Buffalo Bills Wall of Famer, Phil Hansen. (Annette and I grew up in Buffalo, NY and still love the professional version of the “Bison”) Then Norma Borgenson found us and we met her and her husband for the first time. It was so wonderful to finally meet her and to thank her for all that she had done. Then we received a call from a reporter with WDAY who wanted to bring a video camera by for a picture of Jordan. We spent about 10 minutes being interviewed Jordan and Norma Meet for the WDAY newscast that was aired back in Fargo later that day. At 10:23 am Jordan received his scheduled call from Christopher Gabriel Radio Show and was interviewed on the Radio. He was asked who a couple of his favorite players were. His answer,” well I have a couple of favorites on offense and on defense. On offense, I like Tyler Gimmestad and Brock Jensen, and on defense, I like Marcus Williams and Grant Olson”. Jordan, what do you think the keys to the game are? “Well, I think the offensive line is going to have to open some good holes for Crockett and Ojuri to run through, and Brock is going to need to be careful I with the ball and not throw any interceptions. And we need Marcus to have a good runback and possibly a couple of picks”. And Jordan, what do you think the final score will be? His answer, “24‐10 Bison!” As we prepared to wrap up and head into the game, Chad had another surprise for us courtesy of the Grillmasters and others. He stated that everyone had been putting money into a hat to cover the costs of the food and beverages for the tailgating. They had made a decision that after all the expenses were covered, they wanted our family to have the cash that was leftover to help us offset some of the costs we were incurring for Jordan’s lung transplant. He went on to say that when people started realizing that the extra would go to Jordan, they gave extra. 10s and 20s became 50s and 100 dollar bills. We were absolutely overwhelmed. He handed me a box of bills that later we counted that had close to $2,000 in it. After the game, another Grillmaster member, Scott Differding, whom we had also never
met found us and told us that he had been looking for us. He opened my hand and put a substantial gift in it for Jordan and told us how he would be praying for us and how much Jordan’s story had touched him. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of this group! We went into the game with thankful hearts and nervous energy and we thought about whether the Bison would perform at the peak of their abilities and be able to beat a very good Sam Houston State Bearkat team. We knew the Kats would be out for revenge after beating them last year. We arrived at our seats. They were in the very first row, right behind the Bison bench at about the 35 yard line. What a sight to behold as we watched the stadium fill in and about 75% of the crowd wearing Bison Green and Gold. The sights of the Gold Star Marching Band, seeing the players run onto the field, the national anthem, and an incredible B‐52 flyover… Wow, and not a down of football had even been played yet! Jordan took it all in and was in total awe. He has loved going to the Bison Games in the “Dome” the past three years and this year we became Team Makers with season tickets only to miss the last three home games and all of the Great Seats to Cheer on the Bison! playoffs. This was so special for him to watch the team he knew and loved so much play for the ultimate prize, the National Championship! The game was incredible! A hard fought defensive battle the first half ended with the score at 10‐10 and the outcome still in doubt. 2 great teams that battled for every inch on the field with neither giving in. Half time came and we talked about the Bison just owning the second half all year. They have outscored their opponents by lopsided margins in the 3rd and 4th quarters this year. Thankfully, our Bison held true to form. They came out the second half and dodged a bullet when the Kats All‐American back Tim Flanders ran about 42 yards for an apparent touchdown and a 17‐10 lead. But there was yellow laundry on the field, and the play was brought back due to offensive holding. The next play Carleton Littlejohn intercepted the pass and the Bison went on to outscore the Kats 29‐3 in the second half! The offensive line opened holes for a great rushing Jordan and Jesse see Thundar! day, Brock was careful with the ball and ran for three TD’s and Marcus had two INT Picks just like Jordan said! What an experience! At the end of the game, we received some additional blessings and special moments. As the game was winding down, team Captain and leading tackler, Grant Olson came over to Jordan and reached up and pulled Jordan down onto the field. Jordan has loved Grant since meeting him in October.
You see, last October there was a benefit for Jordan and a sendoff for us as we left for Houston. Grant Olson, Tyler Gimmestad, Brock Jensen, and Carson Wentz all took time out of their busy weekend to come over to Oak Grove Elementary Gym and spend a few hours with kids and families. Grant went so far as to stay well beyond the time requested, to go into the bounce house and play with kids, to allow his fingernails to be painted audacious colors to raise money for Jordan’s Journey. When I asked him that day what his teammates would say about his nails, he looked up and smiled and said “I usually wear gloves so they won’t know!” I heard Coach The Four Bison Players who came to Bohl told the story at a Team Makers lunch of seeing Grant’s Jordan’s Journey Benefit at Oak Grove in fingernails one day after practice and October was wondering about his star linebacker who told him he was leaving the paint on as he remembered the journey that Jordan was going through waiting for his lung transplant. Now here in front of Jordan was Grant Olson again. Grant, a college junior was taking time for others during one of the biggest achievements of his life, his second NCAA National Championship. Grant had just overcome a lot of adversity to even play in the game, having almost gone through an emergency appendectomy and had played in a tremendous amount of pain (early the following week he would be hospitalized). An yet, here he was taking a moment to think about a 10 year old boy in the stands. Grant presented Chad Olson and Jordan with the game ball to Jordan a game ball. As he kneeled and talked with Jordan, Grant told Jordan that he was his personal hero! Jordan and all of us were so touched and moved by this incredibly special moment. Tyler Gimmestad then came over and handed Jordan his Championship T‐Shirt and he got to have his picture taken with one of his other favorite player. Marcus Williams signed his jersey. Many other players signed his jersey and #5 Derrick Lang, even gave him his game gloves. This is Bison Pride. Tyler Gimmestad with Jordan and Jesse
In closing, we have so many people to thank. But I would like to share with you one more story and one additional thank you to our new friend Chad Stark. Chad, the person who listened to one 10 year old 4th grader’s (Grayson Wetch) Christmas wish, and took it upon himself to do something about making that wish come true. When I told Chad that we were worried they had done too much, Chad reminded me that this is what they live for, to be able to show the strength of the Bison and the Herd, and that when they have a little Bison that is sick or injured, just like the real Bison, they like to surround it with the herd. Our family has experienced the strength of the Bison and the strength of the Herd. We have tremendous Bison Pride! We can never thank you each and all enough! We will always remember the generosity of so many and apologize for those that we missed. We will be looking to help others pay it forward as you have helped us! Thank you all!! The Herd Now this is the law of the prairie As old and as true as the sky And the Bison that keep it will prosper And the bison that break it will die As the creeper that girdles the tree truck This law is the final word: For the strength of the Herd is the Bison And the strength of the Bison is the Herd