Peyton Manning is not only a Hall of Fame Quarterback, a Lombardi Trophy winner, and an unforgettable quarterback, he also has an extremely soft, giving heart.
Although he’s been the Broncos quarterback since 2012, Peyton Manning left a lot of fans back in Indianapolis, where he played football for the first fourteen years of his career. One of those fans, Kari Barnett Bollig, 45, originally from Greenfield, Indiana, has stage 4 breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 2013, and doesn’t know how long she has to live with her prognosis, so with nothing to lose, she wrote a letter to Peyton.
“I have followed Peyton Manning forever, especially being an Indiana girl,” Bollig said, via the Indianapolis Star. “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. It was very personal. It was very heartfelt and I never thought anything of it other than I wrote it and sent it. I didn’t even know he would get it.”
According to one of Kari’s childhood friends, Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Kari wanted to write letters, not just to Manning but to all types of people who had inspired her.
Miracles really do happen. Peyton got Kari’s letter. And, he not only read the letter, he made Kari’s wish come true. Kari got a telephone call from Peyton’s people telling her he wanted to fly her to Denver.
“I kind of stammered and stuttered around,” Bollig said. “And then I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”
Manning flew her and her husband out to Denver to watch last Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. Kari and her husband got to spend two days at the stadium, they got sideline passes from Peyton, they got to tour the Broncos facility, and they got to watch the team practice on Saturday before the game.
But, best of all, Kari got to meet Peyton in person and talk to him for 10 minutes.
“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.’ ”
“Keep fighting, Kari,” said Peyton to her as he hugged her before they left. “I’ll be praying for you.”
Dana said she personally had never really liked Peyton too much. To her, he seemed to be robotic and aloof. She said she never felt a particular genuineness about him. She felt more of a robotic aloofness. She’s not sure why. She knows now that was her problem, not his.
“But I want to tell you something,” she said after changing her mind and writing him a letter after Kari’s trip to Denver. “I do love you now. I love you for what you did for my childhood friend from Greenfield, Ind., who is dying of breast cancer.”
Thank you, Peyton Manning, for doing what you did. We’re all hoping those prayers work.
[Image via CBS Sports]