GREEN BAY – Tradition rolls on as it tends to do, and year after year Packers players pick a bike before practice and ride from Lambeau to Ray Nitschke Field during training camp. Some of those players, if they choose, pick a bike and a rider to pair with for the entire summer. Corey Linsley picked a go-to guy on the second day of practice.
“When I met him, I was surprised when he picked me,” said 10-year-old Travis Kohlbeck from Green Bay.
Kohlbeck and the rookie offensive lineman Linsley have been riding together every practice since. Linsley says at first, Travis was a little quiet, but he opened up. They talked about their day, the weather, normal stuff; but what came next didn’t surprise Travis’ father.
“My son Travis, he’s a big talker,” said John Kohlbeck. “I’m guessing he told Corey the whole story what’s going on.”
What was going on was a tough time for the Kohlbecks. Travis’ mom, Alicia, dealt with headaches for some time before going to a doctor. An MRI showed a brain hemorrhage. That was followed by a week in the hospital.
“To have someone do that for your child that they hardly even know, the generosity of their own heart, it’s heart-warming.”
“It’s going to be a long road (to getting healthy), but it helps having a ray of sunshine there,” said Alicia Kohlbeck.
That ray of sunshine was provided by her son’s new Packer pal. Learning about Travis’ mom being in the hospital, Linsley asked for the family’s phone number. He called and asked permission to buy Travis a new bike.
“My heart just burst wide open,” said Alicia. “To have someone do that for your child that they hardly even know, the generosity of their own heart, it’s heart-warming.”
Travis says he was “happy that (Linsley) cares for our family.” He was also excited, as 10-year-olds tend to be, about shopping for a new bike. He and Linsley went on Sunday, Linsley’s day off from practice, to two stores, settling on a new Schwinn from Toys ’R’ Us.
“He was thrilled,” said Linsley. “You should’ve seen the smile on his face. It was awesome.”
A photo of Linsley, Travis and the new bike was posted on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday and went viral, landing Travis on plenty of national sports websites. Travis said the whole experience left him feeling “Awesome, cool and very excited.” His football-playing bike rider says he’s just happy to help a family in any way he could.
“Anybody who lent out a helping hand to me (when I was younger), it was the greatest thing in the world,” said Linsley. “I figured he was the same way, he was a lot like I was, a ball of energy, couldn’t control me. I knew he’d appreciate that. That’s why I did that.”
Travis says he hopes Linsley is a Packer for years to come, and is making sure his friends are aware just what makes Green Bay’s rookie center special. His family is thankful for the gesture, too.
“Literally took my breath away,” said John Kohlbeck. “I didn’t have enough words to praise or thank you when I talked to him. It was unreal.”