DENVER -- The Broncos face a tough battle at home as the New England Patriots come to town this weekend. But the players know some of their fans are facing much tougher battles off the field. And they are doing their part to lift their spirits.
Nancy Wrigley is a lifelong, die-hard Broncos fan.
Her parents used to take her to the Broncos games when she was growing up. So when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and was having a tough time, her daughter knew just what would cheer her up.
Her daughter wrote a letter to the Broncos. She wrote:
“Hey guys, my name is Rachel. I’m 21, a Colorado native, and am currently going to graduate school up in Washington. I’m not writing to tell you about me, but about my mom, Nancy, who is your biggest Bronco fan. If you have a second, I’d like to tell you a bit about her and what you guys mean to her.”
Her letter went on to describe her mom’s diagnosis and battle and what the team means to her:
“The reason I’m telling you all this is because you, and your team, is what is keeping her going. She loves the Broncos. I realize that you guys get flooded with fan mail every year, but a woman who can barely get to the grocery store can light up like Christmas when any of you are mentioned. She loves you and the team you play on. She watches your games religiously, follows you all on Facebook, and really tries to get to know you as people off the field (as much as us fans can, at least). And as her daughter, I want to tell you how grateful I am that you guys can give her the life and the energy that she once had. Seeing her happy makes everyone around her happy, and you all are one of the most influential pieces for that.”
Then Wrigley began receiving posts on Facebook.
“I freaked out. I saw the pic of Chris Harris came up first, he was holding a piece of paper. This is on my Facebook page, on my Lyme page," she said. "On that sheet of paper, it says we are rooting for you Nancy. I’m like that’s my name. Chris Harris is rooting for me! As I opened up the comments, there is DeMarcus Ware. There is Emmanuel Sanders, there is Demaryius Thomas with that famous smile. They are all holding this sign, they are rooting for me.”
She said the messages came at just the right time.
“Lyme is a very, very lonely disease," she said. "It’s a tough one. I can’t get out of the house much because my immune system is suppressed. Most of my friends are on Facebook. I have debilitating headaches, weakness, I have cognitive issues so we know the Lyme disease is in my brain. it’s a very interesting and devastating diagnosis.
"I want people to know Lyme is an invisible disease ... you don’t see my brain fog, you don’t see my difficulty speaking, sometimes it’s obvious you can tell I’m having issues.”
Wrigley is extremely grateful that her daughter reached out to the Broncos, and the Broncos listened.
“I was so incredibly honored," she said. "And the Broncos organization and their outreach program is amazing. I felt special. Even though to those guys, they may have been handed a piece of paper and said smile and look at the camera, I want them to know those pictures are going to be framed and up. Because they are rooting for me.”
The players are happy to motivate her to keep up her will to win.
“To be able to help add motivation for them to be able to overcome that disease," Chris Harris Jr. said. "I think it’s huge for us to be able to do that. It just gives our fans extra motivation to be able to fight through it. It’s just out of love, something we felt on this platform, that’s what we’re supposed to do."
Added Demaryius Thomas: “Going through a disease like that, it’s tough on her, tough on the family, it’s good to show support from me, my teammates, this is very important. It’s good to have fans like that, we keep her in our prayers, hope she gets better.”
Wrigley hopes this helps raise awareness about Lyme disease through her Facebook page.