Walk Don't Run 6/30/15

Every year for the last five years I look forward to a local June event, The CMC Golf “Fore” Good Health golf tournament. Every year I have been lucky enough to get to participate in this event. This year Linda Santo and Coach Reed went all out and it was fabulous.

The Community Medical Center Foundation teamed up with the Tanner Shelby Merz Foundation to bring awareness to Traumatic Brain Injury. The event started with the first ever Gala dinner at the Falls City Elks Club on Thursday night.  My boss, Falls City Journal Editor, Jason Schock was kind enough to invite Brian, my sister Cori, My brother-in-law Heath and myself to join him and his daughter Chloe for the gala.

Before the dinner gala Brian took our son Alex to the Elks Club for the autograph session. Alex, always looking for an excuse to dress up in his suit, had an amazing time as he was able to meet and mingle with many of the former NFL and UNL players who attended the event. He was absolutely tickled to meet Tommie Frazier and Neil Smith. All of the players made quite an impact on my little guy and couldn’t have been nicer! After Alex left to attend his baseball game, we joined these great guys for dinner and more entertainment than I imagined.

We were treated to a very informative and interesting Q&A with  Dr. Arthur Maerlender, Director of Clinical Research Associate Director for the Center for Brain, Biology, & Behavior (CB3). He shared his knowledge on Traumatic Brain Injury and discussed the amount of concussions in athletes of all ages. As the mother to a rowdy little boy who loves sports I found it extremely informative. We were also entertained by Neil Smith and Tommie Frazier as they helped Brian Witt auction off some great items for the event. I even thought about bidding during the auction because Tommie and Neil can be very intimidating and passionate guys.

The following morning Brian and I met my “bonus Mom,” Rhonda at the Falls City Golf Course to spend the day golfing and mingling with the celebrities. Our team of four that included Aaron Graham joined up with Tana Chandler, Vicki Beilke, Jamie Chandler and Brenden Stai.

Aaron Graham played for Dr. Tom Osborne on the 1994 and 1995 National Championship Husker Football Team while Brenden Stai was on the 1994 team. Aaron went on to play in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans. Stai, played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins. It was fun to watch these two interact. They weren’t afraid to give each other a bit of grief like when Stai called Graham’s bright lime golf shirt “as loud as he was” or when Graham gathered us into a huddle at the final hole to pep talk us into beating his former teammate after he shooed him away. They were down to earth, hilarious and so much fun.

We couldn’t have been paired any better. I hadn’t picked up a golf club since last year’s tournament and Brian pretty much gave it up when he had his accident a few years ago. We were both nervous that we would bring our team average way down. Aaron Graham couldn’t have been nicer to us and let us know that he was there to just have fun for a great cause, no pressure. The foursome we played with were also extremely kind and patient with us. (Thank you guys so much!) The day was gorgeous with billowing clouds that set the most beautiful backdrop for our day.

My golf game was horrendous but along the way Graham pulled me aside to explain how I was lining up behind my ball each time I drove and essentially topping it. Soon after Stai explained how I should be putting by nearly standing directly over the ball. Both men were correct and my golf game improved dramatically. I now have the honor of telling people that two NFL players pretty much taught me golf and became my best friends forever. If you ever meet them and ask them about their super cool new best friend for life, Nikki McKim, and they act like they have forgotten me, well that’s just how we joke with each other, that’s what best friends do. Those crazy guys!

In all seriousness it was an amazing few days and I only know of half of the work that went into it. Linda Santo is a machine and I honestly have no idea how she does it. I’m sure Coach also runs himself ragged but I only get to work with Linda and let me tell you, she puts her entire heart and soul into each of her projects. She is so passionate and it always spills over on to me every year. Brian, Rhonda, Cori, Heath and I each walked away with wonderful stories, memories and as my sister put it “bragging rights” for years to come.