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Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

Struck Strikes Out: A special moment for a special guy

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It is often said good things happen to good people.

Well, if you stay tuned, you're soon going to read about our Cherokee youths' biggest fan - positively "good people" - and a good...no, great thing some of our incredible Cherokee youths did at the recent Iowa State Track & Field Championships.

Uh, you might want to grab a few tissues before this baby's done.

Cherokee Super Fan Kenny Bern, who has attended the State Track & Field Meet in Des Moines for nearly 60 years, experienced a first at this year's co-ed classic at storied Drake University Stadium.

You see, unbeknownst to the beloved Bern, all the Cherokee track and field athletes at this year's State Meet secretly petitioned the usher serving Kenny's seating section, got the usher's permission, and then lined up single file all the way up and down the many stadium steps and - one at a time - with few words being said, went up to the shocked Bern and...and hugged him and thanked him for being there to support them.

Needless to say, this public display of love and innocence immediately touched dozens and dozens of people in the vicinity who were fortunate enough to witness the event as the word spread across the crowd.

"I didn't know what to do," said Kenny in reliving the touching scene. "I can't thank the kids enough for what that meant to me. All those young people stopping what they're doing at the State Track Meet and coming up to give me a hug and to say hi. It put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes," added Bern, again tearing up as he recounted this incredible act.

Kenny said after the Cherokee kids left, dozens of men and women - all with tears in their eyes - approached him to tell him how simply wonderful that scene was.

"You must have some special kids in Cherokee," said a couple from Bell Plaine. "We have never seen anything like this."

"People from rows around came up to me with tears in their eyes and said they had never seen or imagined so many young kids do what they just did," said Kenny, now wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. "My answer was, Now you know why I go to so many high school events."

Identifying them by their State Track t-shirts, Bern said people from Bell Plaine, Okoboji, North Fayette, H.L. Victor, Southern Cal, Laurens-Marathon, and Mount Vernon came up to him with teary eyes to tell him how wonderful what they had just witnessed was. Many others also stopped to congratulate Kenny for being "somebody special enough" that the kids would do what they did on their own volition.

As most of you know, Kenny Bern and his late wife, Olga, had no children so, through the years, they "adopted" everybody's child who has ever played sports in high school.

Kenny and Olga had no special hobbies after Kenny retired from world-class bowling so attending college, high school and junior high sports became their devotion and no event was ever too far or too frequent for them to attend.

And this year's Cherokee boys and girls track and field teams conceived and delivered a poignant, emotional reminder that most of our kids today "get it" and are unafraid to show their love and support to a guy who has unabashadly done the same to them their entire prep careers, and will continue for future generations as long as this beloved octogenerian graces us with his presence.

Paul Struck
Struck Strikes Out