Peyton Manning hosts terminally ill fan at Broncos game
A terminally ill Indianapolis Colts fan who remained a loyal supporter of Peyton Manning after he moved on to the Denver Broncos received a surprise she never expected after she wrote the quarterback a letter upon learning she does not have long to live.
Kari Barnett Bollig, who has stage 4 breast cancer, penned several letters to those who have made a difference in her life. Among them was Manning, as Bollig states she has “followed Peyton Manning forever, especially being an Indiana girl.”
“I just thought, ‘Well shoot. I’m going to write him a letter and tell him how much he inspires me, not just because he’s a football player, but for what he does off the field,” Bollig told the Indianapolis Star.
“It was very personal. It was very heartfelt and I never thought anything of it other than I wrote it and sent it,” she said. “I didn’t even know he would get it.”
Much to her surprise, Manning personally called Bollig, inviting her to last weekend’s game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
“I kind of stammered and stuttered around,” Kari said. “And then I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”
Bollig spent two days in town, getting the chance to watch the Broncos practice and take team photos along with a tour of team facilities on Saturday. She and her husband also received tickets to Sunday’s game along with pregame field passes. Manning even took a moment to meet with Bollig and her husband before kickoff.
“He walked right over after he got his picture taken,” she said. “It was so sweet because he shakes my hand and says, ‘I’m Peyton Manning.’ It was cute. It was kind of like, ‘I know who you are Peyton.’ ”
Bollig says Manning was as easygoing as he appears from afar, calling him “a gentle giant.”
“It was such a personal moment,” she said. “It was a once in a lifetime thing.”
Manning obviously has been on the ropes this week after struggling in Denver’s 19-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens. But meeting someone going through the heartbreaking ordeal Bollig is experiencing certainly should put everything in perspective for Manning, who is no stranger to acts of generosity and thoughtfulness like what he did for Bollig.
[H/T Pro Football Talk]