August 10, 2011

To:  The John Challis Courage For Life Foundation
From: ‘Team Brady’ Brady VandenBerghe

‘Some people come into our lives and quietly go;
others stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts
and we are never the same.’

It is with my deepest gratitude that I thank you for the sporting experience I received through The John Challis Courage for Life Foundation.  Thank you for recognizing the athlete I was before AML Leukemia and honoring the athlete I will be again.  I thank God everyday for my remission from cancer and for the wonderful friendships I gained through your foundation.

I have read over and over again about John, and it is remarkable how similar we are.  Not only do we share the love of sports, but we are committed to helping others in our lifetime.  I will forever be thankful to your foundation for giving me an experience that made me forget about my cancer and let me just be Brady.

Thank you so much for my family’s trip to Pittsburgh.  This was our first time being east and we all fell in love with your city.  You can imagine I was so surprised to be picked up at the airport in a limo and then taken downtown to the Hyatt.  I could not believe the experience in coming through the tunnel to see the spectacular view of Pittsburgh.  It was so awesome to see our hotel room all decorated with ‘Courage for Life’ shirts, hats and so many goodies, including an edible fruit arrangement.  One highlight of my trip was the Steelers’ training camp that my dad and I enjoyed with Mr. Challis; I was thrilled to see the action up close and meet the players.  Another highlight was, of course, the Pirate baseball game.  Standing on their field and throwing a pitch was overwhelming for me.  Lastly, I want to thank you for the Twins’ game in Minneapolis.  I have love the game of baseball my whole life, and you did not disappoint me.  Now I’m not sure who to cheer for when the Pirates play the Twins.

This trip really felt and special and I felt welcomed by everyone we met in Pittsburgh.  I want to personally thank Mr. Challis for being an incredible tour guide and the special time we spent talking about John and his courage and spirit.  The Challis family was so generous to us and the entire family welcomed us.  Thank you for all the wonderful events we had while in Pittsburgh; it truly was an experience I will never forget.

My very best,
Brady VandenBerghe