Saturday, under the new lights at Michigan Stadium, from the field with my walker, I was thrilled to experience the full Michigan Football extravaganza.
First, let me explain about the walker. I recently started using one, and you may be wondering why. The doctors aren’t sure, but they’ve determined that I have a nerve problem in my leg related to a spinal cord injury. When and how I got the injury is a mystery. It could have been at birth, as I had trouble walking and doing stairs when I was a preschooler. Fortunately, I was fine from the age of 13 until about 10 years ago. Or it could have been from an injury, as I actively played sports and took plenty of body hits, especially in my favorite sport hockey. Or it could have been from an infection that I wasn’t aware of. Then, with the normal process of aging, my walking gradually worsened. First 20 years ago, I limped. Then I started using walking sticks. eventually, I started catching my foot and falling. Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself, but it was scary and concerning for me and my family. Over the years I have received various treatments from many dedicated doctors and physical therapists. However, with their encouragement, about a year ago, I decided to start using a walker. At first, it was embarrassing—as a matter of fact, it still is—but gradually with the support of my family and friends I have started to get use to it.
For the past several months, I have been acting as an informal advisor to the Michigan football program, consulting about the players’ mental health and academic performance. As a perk, I have been invited to attend some of the games. Last week I was able to be on the sidelines before the beginning of the game and to be part of the Banner Crew, which enabled me to help lift the banner as the Michigan team charged onto the field, with the fabulous Michigan Marching Band blasting “The Victors Valiant.”
I was able to be up close to the field as the team warmed up before the start of the game. I was accompanied on the field by my friend and professional photographer, Michael Samuelson. Here are some of the fabulous pictures we were able to capture:
For example, as the festivities were starting, Deb (unfortunately, I did not get her last name, but hopefully somebody will identify her photo) made sure that I was able to stand near the spot where the banner crew would be entering the field. After the entrance of the players, she made sure that I was able to get up the steep ramp in the tunnel. She showed me the way out and told me exactly how to get to my seats. She then handed me over to another attendant, Nicole Mayberry, who realized that I had forgotten to request handicapped seats. She located two and accompanied us to our seats where we had an amazing view from up high in the Big House.
The night was beautiful and warm. The game was exciting. The band played magnificently. The new lights and scoreboard were spectacular.
To close, I’d like to thank the football and event staff who helped make the night so spectacular. Also, I would like to give special thanks to Claiborne Green, Director of Football Administration and Student Services, with whom I have collaborated over the past several years.
Photo credits go to Michael Samuelson, author of Iconic Ann Arbor