MANITOWOC – It wasn’t an ordinary road trip this week for the Silver Lake men’s college basketball team.
The coach and five players from the Manitowoc Catholic college traveled to upstate New York to honor a young boy they had never met.
Coach Phil Budervic had a hard time focusing on his practice plan earlier this week, after coming across a news story on the Internet.
“I stopped and read the story and it emotionally moved me to tears sitting at my desk,” said Budervic.
Last week, 9-year-old Tyler Doohan awoke to a fire burning in his grandfather’s trailer home near Rochester, New York. As the fire spread, Doohan helped six people survive. However, he died, going back into the burning home, trying to save his grandfather, who used a wheelchair, and an uncle. All three died together.
“When we approached the team, they treated it like it happened next door,” said Budervic.
So, Budervic and his players came up with the idea of traveling 21 hours to be pallbearers at the young boy’s funeral.
“They were all for it,” said Budervic. “They realized that this individual, Tyler, is a true hero.”
With it being basketball season, the team had a game the same day as the funeral. They talked to the school they were supposed to play, and when they heard their plan, they were willing to reschedule.
“Our two core values that we worked on here were compassion as well as community,” said Budervic.
Those two values were appreciated upon the team’s arrival in New York.
“We weren’t out of the van more than two minutes, we were still putting on our suit jackets or sport jackets on and about a dozen to 20 of the family came up to us and said are you from Silver Lake and we said yes and they just welcomed us with open arms and said thank you, couldn’t say thank you enough for coming to honor Tyler and the family,” said Budervic.
While the team won’t forget the trip anytime soon, it’s the boy they never met they’ll remember most.
“Tyler is a true hero, just the kind of person that we really wanted to honor,” said Budervic.
Twelve players on the team volunteered to go to the funeral. However, traveling in a van, they could only take five.