Opinion

QB star Peyton Manning turns into an off-the-field hero for Afghan war vet AND his family

When an Indiana resident wrote a letter to her husband’s favorite sports icon asking for a chance to meet, she had no idea how far the athlete would go to fulfill the wish.

But then again, this husband is a U.S. soldier, and the celebrity is Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, making the meeting and the pains to make it happen all the more heartwarming.

Manning, though, had one big obstacle to overcome: Kristen Patterson failed to include her contact information in the Sept. 21 letter, according to the Indianapolis Star.

“I am writing to ask a question. You see my husband is a HUGE fan, and when I say HUGE I mean it,” Patterson wrote. “He is currently serving our country in the United States Army and has deployed twice to Afghanistan. He would set alarms to wake up at odd hours in the night just to listen to your football games. We recently had to move across the country for the Army and he tried to get us stationed in Colorado just so he could ensure that he would never miss your games.”

Who wouldn’t be hooked by such devotion? The request seemed simple enough.

“We will be attending the Bengals vs. Broncos game on December 22, 2014, while home for the holidays, and it would mean so much to my husband if you might be able to find the time to just even say hello, not to mention it would make me to coolest wife ever of all time,” she said. “I know you are a busy man, and if you can’t, it will be ok. I just thought I might ask in the rare chance that you might agree to this.”

Manning did more than agree. When he finally did read the letter – surely, one of thousands he gets — he asked the Broncos’ public relations team to track Patterson down. It took three months, but the Broncos found her phone number, then contacted state troopers, who called Patterson.

Did we mention that the Pattersons live in a place called North Pole, Alaska?

“When I got a call from [an Alaska] state trooper, they asked if I wrote a letter to Peyton Manning,” Patterson told 9News. “They said the Denver Broncos were trying to get a hold of me.”

The question, and the effort to find her, stunned Patterson.

“When I sent it, you never know if someone is going to read it or if it is going to be tossed in a pile,” she said. “So I thought they never read it, no big deal.”

She and the Broncos set up a meeting with Manning on Dec. 21 at a Cincinnati-area hotel, then worked hard to keep the secret from her husband.

Photo Credit / Mad World News

On Dec. 22, three months after the letter was written, Patterson’s husband, Ryan Patterson, finally met his hero before the Broncos-Bengals game.

“He [Manning] seemed genuinely tickled that we lived in North Pole, Alaska,” Ryan Patterson told the Indianapolis Star. “He said, ‘You guys are really hard to find.’ Before he left, he shook my hand and thanked me for my service one more time, and I thanked him for being my quarterback.”

Manning is known for being a gentleman on and off the field, and his extraordinary efforts to make one couple’s dream come true only confirmed his reputation.

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