The University of Oregon football team is great.
I don’t write that simply because they blasted the Oregon State University hacks out of the water on Saturday, but because they are great.
Let me explain.
I’m a member of the “Team Cole” group on Facebook – the one with over 1,100 members – which is a group dedicated to the support of Cole Hexum, an 8-year-old who was diagnosed with Stage IV Burkitt’s leukemia in September.
I don’t know Cole, but I know his story because my good friend Brian is his uncle.
Cole is a huge Ducks fan. Everything about him – from the clothes he wears to the Team Cole logo and colors designed for Cole’s supporters – screams Oregon Ducks.
Ducks’ senior wide receiver Will Murphy is a friend of the family, has been wearing a Team Cole bracelet in every game since the boys’ condition was announced and, according to Brian, arranged a visit to a closed Ducks’ practice.
During the practice Cole got to talk with the majority of the team members and even spent some time with Head Coach Chip Kelly.
Following the practice, Cole got a tour of the football team’s private facilities and took pictures with Murphy.
Watching my friend get choked up as he talked about how great a day it was for his nephew, and how much it meant, made me realize that the Ducks are a great bunch of athletes. Of people.
When I returned to the office from the Thanksgiving break I read another story from the Bend Bulletin that reinforced my feelings about the Ducks.
The story was almost identical to Cole’s.
Bend teen Ryan Berhar, 16, has spinal muscular atrophy and has been living on borrowed time since he was predicted, by doctors, to die at age 3.
According to the Bulletin story by Mark Morical, Ryan is a huge Ducks fan and got a chance to spend some time with the Ducks during a practice.
During the visit, senior running back Kenjon Barner spent more than five hours with Ryan as they toured the weight room, team room and practice facilities.
Both Barner and Murphy made a normal day special for both of these boys. They didn’t have to spend more than a few minutes with them I’m sure. So why did they?
I would wager that it because they have a coach who expects them to give. A coach who sets the example through his own actions. And, I would bet just as much that they had parents who taught them how to give when they were young. They must realize that time is something that can only be given, not taken.
It warmed my heart. It made me grateful to live where stories such as these actually happen and aren’t just Hollywood fodder.
It makes me glad to be a Ducks’ fan.