The Rams had a 15 year Super Bowl XXXIV reunion this evening. Since dad’s birthday was a few days before, I got tickets to the event as a birthday gift. The reunion also brought back a flood of memories for me some of which are due to my unique history and connection with the organization which began 15 years ago.

My neighbors growing up, and whom I have been good friends with throughout my life, were St. Louis Rams cheerleaders in 1999. During that season, my mom passed away at the age of 54 when I was still in college. To help my dad and me with the grieving process, our neighbors gave us access to Super Bowl XXXIV tickets. Their act of generosity was immeasurable. The game and experience is something my dad and I will always remember, but it also created many memories which will resonate with my dad and me forever. When I graduated in May of 2000, I bought season tickets and we have been season ticket holders ever since.

When we bought season tickets, tailgates became a staple for my dad and me. In the early 2000’s, tailgates consisted of friends whom were already, or became, season ticket holders. Year by year we improved our tailgating skills with the highlight being when we decided to begin cooking the signature food of the St. Louis Rams opponent as a part of each tailgate. Later, our tailgate and St. Louis Rams traditions grew and changed when my girlfriend began attending tailgates. After Lauren and I got married, she continued to come to tailgates and later, after our daughter Madeline joined our family, we brought her to several tailgates.

My neighbor’s simple act of kindness in 1999 led to it all. Initially through healing for my dad and me, then as fans, then as a reason for everyone to gather and have fun.

Near the beginning of the reunion, Coach Vermeil spoke and I suddenly found myself experiencing a wave of internal emotions. While the 1999 team has brought many fond memories, they’re also linked to a time of sadness in my life from my moms passing. As many coaches and players of the 1999 team were onstage sharing stories, I felt a new connection to the 1999 team through the sadness we were going through with our sweet baby girl’s Trisomy 18 diagnosis.

When dad and I left the event, we found ourselves reliving certain things from our past and reflecting on the current situation. I shared with dad my realization of the parallels and he became very quiet. It was a shocking revelation for him I’mm sure.

Many people who know me say I’m a huge St. Louis Rams fan. I certainly enjoy the St. Louis Rams, enjoy watching the games, enjoy tailgating, and enjoy football. However, I look at the St. Louis Rams differently. The organization has a deep connection in my life. They’ve played a role in healing, happiness, excitement, and togetherness. As such, their impact in my life goes well beyond the field and game. If that makes me a huge fan, so be it. I just appreciate the connection.

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