- September 4, 2017
Betty’s dream was not just a dream after all. Last weekend, the Winter Park Care & Rehabilitation Center resident and I watched Notre Dame lose in a squeaker to Florida State University in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.
Proudly Irish and devoutly Catholic, Betty has wanted to see a Notre Dame game in person for more than 80 years. It didn’t come true until last night. She and I ate foot-long Italian sausages and wolfed down cold fries and washed that gruel down with icy lemonade. Later, we grabbed a couple of foot-long corn dogs and munched our way into bliss.
When the Notre Dame band smartly marched onto the field in their eye-grabbing blue and gold and cranked up the school fight song, Betty sprang to her feet like an 18-year-old gymnast and sang with full voice, “Cheer, cheer, for Old Notre Dame.” She cried. She laughed, and I laughed. We raised our arms and marched in place. The golden-helmeted players of Norte Dame looked like bright angels on the field, and when Notre Dame punched one into the end zone in the first quarter, Betty rose to her feet and shouted and sang the fight song all over again. I am pretty sure that we can gather therapy minutes for Betty because she rose from and stood at her wheelchair about 20 times. During the game, Betty allowed me to peek at a text message to a friend that read, “This experience is a howling success.” Many of her fellow Irish fans stopped and talked with her and she told them her story of how her dream came true. Even after the game was over, Betty proudly displayed her Notre Dame pennant and shook her ND pom-pom, both of which had been given to her by a fan, and she and I stood on the street in the semi-darkness waiting for our facility van, and together we sang to all who would hear, “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”
Larry Limbaugh is chaplain of Winter Park Care & Rehabilitation Center.