We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. ~Herman Melville
We get asked all the time about the Viking World Order (VWO). When we explain we are a group of super fans that live, breathe and die for Vikings football, people often snicker or get the unmistakable “deer in the headlights” look. There really is no quick and easy way to describe in detail what it is the VWO means to us or what, exactly, we “do” as part of the VWO. However, today’s events at training camp should paint a clear picture of why we feel so blessed to be a part of this elite clan of people.
Last night, we met up with several of our VWO brethren for a few cold beverages to reminisce about the day. Much like how the original Vikings would drink from the skulls of their enemies; raising them in victory shouting “SKOL!” as they celebrated their spoils.
Most of us had stories about the “professional autograph hunters” that seek autographs for monetary value. This leaves a sour aftertaste for those fans, true fans, that cherish the items they get autographed for a lifetime. In our case, this week our faction was on a mission for an Adrian Peterson autograph in hopes to bring a smile to the face of a young girl from Florida, named Neveah whose mother, Margi, is suffering from a debilitating illness. Margi, or Lady Courage to the VWO, is not well enough to make the trip to Mankato.
Unfortunately, trying to fight for an autograph in a sea of professionals is maddening. (Refer to the photo below.) At one point, someone with a stack of 16×20 prints actually reached over the top of Sir Archer and tried to hold it in front of him, naturally that didn’t go over well. Another person, had a woman against the fence with someone behind her who kept shuffling items forward to her and she walked away with THREE Teddy Bridgewater autographed footballs; while others around her were skipped over because Teddy wanted to keep moving.
However, this morning… my faith would be restored in the generosity of some and provide a reminder that not all people are despicable.
Today’s schedule started with walkthru’s at 10:30 am. We arrived at 10:30 on the nose and the team was already on the field and practicing. Possibly a glimpse of the strict regime lead by Coach Zimmer. The sun was beating down; showing no mercy to those of us facing east into the late morning sun. Brutal is the best way I can describe it. However, just as our group was getting ready to leave; one of us, Lady Legends, was approached by a woman who was getting autographs beside her yesterday. Through conversation, between the player’s arrival, Lady Legends spoke of Margi’s struggles, her undeniable strength and her daughter’s hope for an autograph. The woman was so moved, she and her husband sought us out today to provide an autographed Adrian Peterson 8×10 to send to Florida. Lady Legends teared up, overcome with gratitude while thanking them for their generous gift. Faith restored… Mission complete. Good people do still exist.
Immediately after the morning practice, the VWO sea of purple assembled at the WOW! Zone in Mankato for another annual training camp tradition; the Mavis Jansen Annual Training Camp event. Travis Jansen has been hosting this event for seven years as a memorial to his mother, Mavis, a dedicated Viking fan, who passed from pancreatic cancer. Similarly, this event holds a special place for me also. It was here, at last year’s event that I received a call that would forever change my life. Within 15 minutes of arriving, I received a call from my family to come home immediately, my mother was losing her battle to lung cancer. I left Sir Archer there since he had to work that week, and I headed south to central Iowa to be at my mother’s side. We lost her only a few days later. Today I felt comforted to be able to revisit that day in my mind while surrounded by the love and camaraderie of friends. Wait… no… they are FAMILY.
After the festivities at the WOW Zone!, the entire motley crew returned to Blakeslee Stadium to watch the afternoon practices. Travis had arranged for a private hospitality tent, which offered a respite from the afternoon heat and the sun. The large, white VIP tent donned several tables and chairs covered by purple table cloths, access at the 50-yard line on the field, as well as, drink-tenders offering an assortment of pop and water. An incredible tribute to Mavis Jansen.
Then, as I was taking photos of the team in action, I caught the familiar flash of a shade of neon green I recognized. With my camera, I zoomed in to confirm… and sure enough, Jerrick McKinnon-RB, was wearing the green and purple memorial bracelet honoring Andres Mateo, a true warrior and our young 5-star General (highest rank in the VWO) who lost a two-year battle with lymphoma at only age 13, two years ago.
At that moment, I realized how blessed we are to be a part of this extraordinary league of super fans. No, we aren’t superheroes (although some of us may dress like one on game day), but we ARE family, we ARE proud and we ARE there for each other when the need arises.
WE. ARE. VIKINGS! SKOL!!
We encourage you donate to Margi’s GoFundMe page to help with her medical care and expenses. Keep moving those mountains, MJ!!
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