I grew up in Western New York, but became a Pacers fan because of my aunt. My aunt lives in Indianapolis and whenever we went to visit during my childhood we would try and make it to a Pacers' game. I have followed the Pacers' since my first game at Market Square and my relationship with the team has only grown, culminating in my position as a contributor here at IndyCornrows.
This summer my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, which until recently was spreading extremely fast. Her cancer is currently stage 4 and the long term prognosis is not good. My family decided to gather in Indianapolis this year for Thanksgiving. It was my first trip to Indy in many years and I brought up the idea of going to a Pacers' game while we were there. My aunt called the Pacers' Community Relations department and told them our story, starting with getting me hooked on the team as a kid, to me staying a consistent fan throughout the years and up to her illness. The team graciously offered her 10 free tickets to the home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder the day after Thanksgiving, enough tickets for me and my wife, my sister, my mom and step-dad, my aunt and her four kids.
The Pacers' fell to the Thunder in overtime that night, but it was an experience I'll never forget. I've been to NBA games since my last one in Indy. But until last Friday I never had a game bring back the wild excitement I felt as a kid going to see the Pacers. This was my first trip to Conseco Fieldhouse. The stadium is absolutely beautiful, like no other I've ever seen. Chris Denari, Stacy Paetz and Austin Croshere were gracious enough to share a few words with us in the lobby after filming their pre-game introduction. The Pacers played well, despite losing, and the crowd was much livelier in person than they have ever sounded on television.
It was an incredible experience for me to be able to share one more Pacers' game with my aunt. I took special joy in knowing that her four young kids also got to attend their first Pacers game, an experience I hope will transform them the way my first game transformed me.
Forgive my indulgence in sharing this personal story here, but I wanted to use my limited platform at IndyCornrows to say thank you to the entire Pacers' organization. Thank you for the memories, both good and bad. Thank you for appreciating and caring about your fans. Thank you for working to be the best organization you can be both on and off the court. Thank you for all you've given me, my family and the rest of the fans.