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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Gray Matter:Igor gets California treat

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Some weeks ago I told you a bit about Igor, the 7'8" young Russian now living in Rochester, MN who is afflicted with gigantism.  His disorder limits the activities of this delightful guy who would love to be "just like everyone else."  I recently received a story about him which I was pleased to hear and I think you will be, too.

It seems that Chicago friends of Faye Alden, the Rochester woman who has done so much for Igor, decided to take some action -- sort of their own "Make A Difference Day."  These Baylor University grads are personal friends of Mike Singletary, the legendary Baylor and Chicago Bears football player who is now an assistant coach with the San Francisco 49'ers. 

It took but a single  call to Mike, one of the kindest, most caring of men, for things to be set in motion.  Igor would travel to San Francisco to visit the 49'ers pre-season training camp. His ticket on Frontier Airlines was paid for by several friends.  The leader of a Chicago chapter of Young Life contacted his friend, Peter Tropper, also a native Chicagoan, who is the director of Bridgemont Academy, a Christian School for urban youngsters in San Francisco. Tropper happily agreed to meet the plane and escort Igor around the city. Through a friend of his, contact was made with  the management of the Stanford Park Hotel. After hearing Igor's story, they offered a great room rate, and among other accommodations, the staff put two queen-sized beds end to end for the young man's sleeping comfort.

Then another Baylor alum, Mark Hurd, who is the CEO of Hewlett Packard, became involved. He and his wife, Paula, helped with the hotel expenses, and later invited Igor and Peter Tropper for lunch in their Palo Alto home.         

Igor arrived in San Francisco on a Wednesday.  A shortened practice day for the 49'ers was scheduled on Thursday as it was the day before their first pre-season game. Interestingly, it was against the Chicago Bears.  Igor and the Troppers, along with ten Bridgemont students, were privileged to stand under the press tent to watch the practice.  At the end of the session, at coach Singletary's suggestion, the entire team came across the field to introduce themselves to Igor.  The group was led by Bryant Young, another Chicago native, who was all-American at Notre Dame, and also all-Pro.  Bryant, at 6'5" 325 pounds was still dwarfed by the young giant who impressed everyone with his genial display of appreciation.

Igor,  the Troppers, and several Bridgemont students, were provided special seating for the exhibition game which was held on Friday. Happily, the 49'ers won the game. To Igor's great surprise, he found himself featured in a local TV station's sports segment on the evening news. Lunch in the Hurd's home was Saturday's highlight. On Sunday, Igor returned home savoring memories of his unforgettable adventure.

Now I have just gotten word that Igor received  an H-P printer/copier/scanner/fax machine as a gift from the Hurds.  My Chicago sources suggest you might  keep that act of kindness in mind next time you are in the market for some hi-tech equipment.

I hope you've enjoyed this story of a group of caring folks who were able to provide a special experience for a very special young man, as much as I have.