On his fourth uplifting 'Winter Week', tackle Jerry Wunsch takes a ride on a sled with a few young friends
Buccaneers OT Jerry Wunsch recently accompanied a group of pediatric cancer patients on a five-day ski trip to his hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin during the "Circle of Friends Winter Week." This marked Jerry's fourth consecutive year sponsoring the trip, formerly known as "Jerry's Journey," which involves bringing together young cancer patients from around the country for a carefree ski weekend.
This year, St. Louis Rams DE Grant Wistrom joined Wunsch in sponsoring the program, and accompanied eight children from St. Louis' SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital Bob Costas Cancer Center on the trip. The other travelers included 22 young cancer patients from the Tampa Bay area, Wisconsin and Atlanta, chaperones and nurses.
To kick off the trip, which took place from February 14-18, the Circle of Friends met at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin for a tour of the stadium and the Packer Hall of Fame. Upon arrival at Lambeau, several members of the Packers' staff treated the group to a tour of the field, locker room and training facility. The kids, many of whom had never seen snow, enjoyed running through the white powder that covered Lambeau Field.
After playing on the field, the group moved inside to the locker room where the Packers' equipment staff had made a locker name plate for each Circle of Friends participant. The children were elated to see a locker custom-designed for them.
After a few hours in Green Bay, the group traveled to Wausau, where they spent the next four days engaging in such activities as cross-country and downhill skiing, dog sled and snowmobile rides, tobogganing, campfires and hot-dog roasts. Most of the kids' preferred activity was downhill skiing at Rib Mountain, while another favorite was the dog sled rides.
The last night of the trip was quite memorable. Jerry planned a nice dinner and dance at the Pinewood Supper Club where the children enjoyed several hours of dancing with their newly found friends. After the dance, the group headed back to the hotel for an awards ceremony. Each child received an award and had their photo taken with Jerry and his wife, Melissa and Grant and his girlfriend, Sarah Haynes. They then had the chance to hang an ornament they made on the tree, signifying their presence on this year's and future trips.
"Every year, I hope the children involved with the Circle of Friends will find comfort in realizing kids all over the world go through the same experiences when dealing with cancer," Jerry said. "The kids make new friends, enjoy several different experiences and, most importantly, learn they are not alone in this world."