Monday, July 12, 2010

Drew Brees - Our Hometown Hero

Drew Breesed into town Friday for a book signing of his new book, Coming Back Stronger; Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity. Drew is no stranger to Greater Lafayette - he spent four years flinging the pigskin here, bringing his team to an eventual Rose Bowl appearance in 2000. Since then, he makes trips back here frequently for fundraisers for his foundation, the Brees Dream Foundation, which funds underprivileged children's participation in a Purdue sports camp, along with other charities. He also just "hangs out" with kids from local selected children's organizations. I was fortunate to have been the co-director of one such organization in 2008, and met Drew at a bowling event for kids. Backpacks with Drew's signature were given to all the participants, and some children won big prizes like bikes. All the kids received lunch and bowled with the future Superbowler. It was a thrill to meet one of Purdue's greats, let alone the NFL quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.

The biggest impression I had at the time was his friendliness and open accessibility to the public. Contrary to what the sponsoring credit union, PEFCU, which sponsored the event had said to us, Drew did want to pose for pictures and sign other things (like the backs of kids' shirts, their hats, footballs, etc.). We were told he was to be seen, but not touched. I saw Drew lift one of our group's children onto his shoulders and pose for pictures. I used the one I took of them for a brochure to promote our cause, helping children whose parents had cancer. How can you not love the guy?

When Drew came back this time, it was as the Superbowl XLIV MVP from 2010. He drew huge crowds from both sides of the Wabash River. Usually his appearances are exclusively for the big hitters or the kids. This visit was for the public - his public. At the bookstore, people came early to buy his book and get "tickets" for the book signing. Older people like me who saw him play at Purdue or who taught him in school. One such gentleman was his Business Ethics teacher. Drew looked up from the stream of books and jumped to his feet when he saw Judge Meade. "How are you doing? Are you still teaching? I really enjoyed your class!" Drew was every bit the polite and respectful student from a decade ago. When I approached him, I gave him a gift bag containing Krannert School of Management apparel. Drew was one of our own graduates. You know, something to change up the normal Saints garb. I also slipped him an old brochure I had made up starring him and the kids from my former organization. Judy, my co-worker took a photo of the encounter.
Drew looked great as always. Boy do I need to stay on my diet...

Drew's public also included current Purdue students who could relate to their fellow Boilermaker, and little kids who dreamed of playing football on the big turf. I know Drew has fans all over the country, but we have so many concentrated fans per square mile that we're like family.

What does this have to do with learning Spanish? Nada. Nada thinga. Rosetta, I promise I'm coming back. Now that I have an upcoming trip to Spain and Italy, your words of wisdom will come in mighty handy.

Until manaƱa,

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