Today a lady came to my checkpoint that reminded me of something…
I was asked to come up by the x-ray machine because a passenger wanted to have something hand checked; it was a bag of medication. The woman seemed to have a slight hesitation when handed me the bag and her eyes remained fixed on it as if her life depended on it. Reading that signal, I made sure I stayed within her view; something told me this was more than an everyday bag of medication. She had to go through the body scanner which meant her back was to me for a few seconds. Immediately she turned around to see where I was standing. I met her at the exit and told her I would wait until she gathered her belongings.
Once she had everything I explained the simple test I needed to do on the bottles of medication. I noticed when I said the word "test" her eye began to tear up. I assured her test was safe and would take less than 30 seconds. She said, "I am sorry I have been down at Mayo Clinic because I have a brain tumor. I am going home to Bismarck today." as the tears began to roll down her cheek. I stopped what I was doing and walked around the table where she was standing. I did something I wasn’t sure I should do in my position (I didn’t care) I put my arm around her shoulders and squeezed her tight. She looked at me and I said, “Never apologize for what you are going through.” I asked her her name. She said, “Terry.” “Terry,” I said, “I will keep you in my prayers. I know you are in great hands at Mayo. My friend Tammy was there with a brain tumor.” I went back to testing the outside of the containers when Terry asked how Tammy was doing. I explained Tammy passed away many years ago, but the medicine and technology was not as advanced as today. “Make the choice to enjoy life every day.” I told her. At that point her husband came up to us. He asked if everything was ok. Terry looked at him and said, “Yes. This officer,” “What is your name,” she asked. “Kelly,” I said. “This officer was just checking my medication and telling me about her friend who was a Mayo.”
My testing was complete. I smiled as I handed back the bag to Terry. “You are good to go. Have a safe flight home.” “I will,” she said, “I appreciate you being so kind and sharing your prayers with me.”
Sometimes I wish people around me would notice that I do things like this or that maybe a passenger would take a moment to fill out a comment card. However, when I think about it, I don’t treat people like I do for recognition, I do it because it is the right thing to do. I do it because I want to make a small difference in people’s lives.
This past year I have been able to spend time with Jeff Locke, punter for the Minnesota Vikings. I have leaned off the gridiron he is an avid golfer, plays soccer and video games. Jeff is a cool, down to earth guy with a passion for others; weather it is teaching my young nephew and his cousin soccer skills, meeting my friend and her son who are big Viking fans at training camp or giving back to the community.
When Jeff came to the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 he donned the #12. The rookie didn’t wear the number long because a few weeks later when the Vikings signed quarterback Josh Freeman he wanted the #12 jersey. Now I know you don’t see many people wearing a punter’s jersey, however one of Jeff’s biggest fans, my dad, had just received his #12 jersey when the story broke about the change. The NFL shop offered my dad a discount if he wanted to order a new jersey with Locke’s #18. (He did) Jeff’s #12 jersey now hangs by the jerseys of the Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters (Eller, Larsen, Marshall, and Page) in my dad’s collection.
What many people didn’t know is the #12 came with a price tag of $10,000. Locke sold the rights to the number #12 and willing switched to #18, which he wore at UCLA.
What to do with $10,000? You might think the 24 year old (at the time) would spend it on a new toy of some sort, golf green fees or maybe a vacation. This was not the case for Jeff, he donated it! The $10,000 was donated to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center in November of 2013.
This summer Jeff played in the Tee it Up for the Troops Longest Day of Golf. As an avid golfer he played from the crack of dawn until sunset. As a golfer this was something he had no problem doing.
Why post this today? I saw a post last week that Jeff wrote on Sportsblog.com and it explains more about why the military is is near and dear to this punters heart.
At a time when the Minnesota Vikings have been going through some bad press due to player misconduct, I think about the player that doesn’t get drafted in Fantasy Football or have hundreds of people wearing his jersey, and the friend who will kick around a soccer ball with a group of kids simply because he enjoys the game or do something to make a positive impact in the lives of other people.