Former Husker great Trev Alberts will be the featured speaker at our Fifth Annual Husker Fans Salute The Troops brunch, Sunday morning, October 21st, at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln.
Alberts, who played outside linebacker for Nebraska ('90-'93), won the Dick Butkus Award and the Jack Lambert Trophy and was a consensus All-American in 1993. He was the fifth player chosen in the '94 NFL draft, going to the Indianapolis Colts in the first round. After a three-year injury-plagued career with the Colts, he retired from football before the '97 season.
In 2002, Trev joined ESPN, where he served as an in-studio college football analyst. And in April of 2009, Alberts was hired as the director of athletics at my alma mater, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and continues to serve in that capacity. For more about Salute, go to www.huskersalute.org.
SALUTE UPDATE I remember the phone conversation I had with Gary McGirr (president of the Northeast Kansans For Nebraska in Topeka) back in December of 2007. He told me about his dream to honor current and former members of the US Armed Services.
"We need to have a day or a weekend that we bring in veterans and troopers to Lincoln for a Husker experience. We need to show them how much we appreciate all of the sacrifices they make for us."
So I asked him when he wanted to do it.
"The Spring Game," he said, which was just a few months away. "Gary, listen to me," I told him, "the spring game is just around the corner. And even if there were enough time, how are you going to get the money to put on something like that? Remember, there are just two of us."
I reminded him that we both had families, children, grandchildren and full-time jobs and that there was no way we could pull off something like that.
A couple of weeks later, Gary called back. "I think you're right about the spring game, that's not going to work, but what about this fall? That would give us more time to plan and to find some donors," he suggested.
I've learned that if Gary believes he can do something, you should just get out of his way. But we knew we likely couldn't do it just by ourselves. We needed help.
Enter Maj. Jonathan Harvey. Jonathan was a recipient of one of our Husker Dan's Army Care Packages when he was deployed in Iraq. Gary and Jon got to know each other and traded emails each with ideas about how to make "Salute" happen. Jon was the missing link. It was Gary and Jon who laid the foundation for Salute. Donors were found. The Cornhusker Hotel became our ally. UNL Associate AD Chris Anderson, former Husker players Jeff Makovicka and David Fiala, Shot Kleen (HuskerVision) Joe Posant (Kincaid Motorcoaches) and David Max (www.HuskerMax.com) stepped up.
And sure enough, Gary's dream became a reality when the first Husker Fans Salute The Troops was held November 1, 2008. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Thank goodness Gary didn't listen to me. Since the 2008 debut, Salute has grown into a first-rate celebration of our nation's best people. We salute the troops and we should all thank Gary for his dream and all those who have made his dream become possible.
If you'd like to contribute to Salute, send your donations to:
President, Northeast Kansans For Nebraska
3610 SW Woodvalley Terrace
Topeka, KS 66614
DREAMS AND MIRACLES Gary and I have said since its conception that Salute has been blessed countless times with Divine Intervention. The latest happened just a few weeks ago.
More about that later.
January 21st, Salute held its first "official" board meeting. Officers were elected. Gary became the president and mois, vice president. Regrettably, Maj. Jonathan Harvey submitted his resignation as our first (and only) executive director of Salute. Jonathan and his family will be moving to the Pentagon in Washington, DC, later this year and Jonathan won't have the time to devote to the organization.
Taking Jonathan's position is Col. Philip Wojtalewicz. The Colonel grew up in Omaha and graduated from high school in St. Paul, NE. He is a 1984 graduate of the United States Military Academy and served in the first Gulf War. In June of 2007, he was deployed in Iraq. Since his return to the states, he has been stationed at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas and currently serves in the Individual Ready Reserves.
Welcome aboard, Colonel!
A REAL MIRACLE Getting back to the Divine Intervention thing, Salute president and founder Gary McGirr had the scare of his life back in January. For several days, he had not been feeling well. He was short of breath and didn't have seem to have much energy. And on January 26th, Gary was feeling even worse. Luckily, he called his doctor who said Gary needed to get to a hospital immediately. Tests were done. The doctors discovered that one of his arteries was 99% blocked. A stent was put in. Gary was in the ICU for 24 hours. He's on a diet and exercise routine and at last report, Gary is doing fine. Keep Gary in your prayers.
HUNT WITH THE HUSKERS AND TOM OSBORNE On Saturday, March 31st, Gerry Gray is putting on his annual "Hunt With The Huskers" event at the Oak Creek Sporting Club near beautiful Brainard, NE. But this year, the event is being sponsored by Tom Osborne's TeamMates Mentoring Program. "Hunt" gives Husker fans a chance to go hunting with former Husker football greats (there are usually a dozen or so who attend each year) as well as legendary Husker head football coach and current Husker AD Tom Osborne. For more information, contact Gerry Gray at 402-393-0492 (work) or 402-917-2219 (cell). Make your checks payable to TeamMates Mentoring Program. Or you can go to Gerry's website at www.greatplainsmktg.com. I asked Gerry if I should let people know I'll be there. He said, no, they want to have as many people attend as they can...