BOONE - The Iowa High School Athletic Association will honor Iowa's longtime prep sports super fan Kenny Bern of Cherokee, at the Iowa Boys State basketball Tournament next week in Des Moines.
Bern will be honored prior to the start of Class 1A State Championship at the Boys State Basketball Tournament, Friday, March 11.
Bern, who rarely misses a high school event in Cherokee and the surrounding area, will be recognized for his years of supporting high school athletics. Since he was a young boy, rarely, if ever, has he missed a sporting event of Cherokee's boys or girls teams.
But moreover, he is a fan of the kids. This year is his 65th straight Boys' State Basketball Tournament, which he started attending in 1943 at the old Drake University Fieldhouse, but missed three years because of his service in World War II.
He has not missed one year of the 39 annual Football Playoffs and for over 40 years has been in attendance for all or part of the State Wrestling and State Baseball Tournaments.
IHSSA Executive Director Rick Wulkow, a longtime friend of Kenny's, lauded Bern, who turns 84 on May 29.
"He is what makes being a high school athlete in our state a wonderful experience. He is proud of their achievements and considers it a privilege to watch them perform, and when able to meet them."
A good number of those games attended by Bern were with his late wife Olga, and his late best friend Bob Hoffman of Denison.
"Nobody will ever know just what this honor means to Kenny," said Paul Struck, Editor/Associate Publisher of the Cherokee Chronicle Times and a good friend of Bern's for several years."When he talks about it, it brings tears to his eyes.
"Rick hit it right on the head about Kenny considering it a privilege to watch our kids perform. Kenny Bern goes to games to watch and support our kids - win or lose - as if they were his own. And he never leaves until the game is over ('What would the kids think if I walked out on them?').
"Kudos to Rick Wulkow and the IHSAA for creating this special award for a most-deserving man.I would like to see the IHSAA (and IGHSAU) award a Fan of the Year Award every year. And they should name it the Kenny Bern Fan Appreciation Award."