Blue Bomber legend Gerry James pondered selling his Ring of Honour jersey last month.
James, who lives on Vancouver Island, was looking for ways to fund trips to visit his son, Brady, in hospital multiple times a week. Brady had developed a flesh-eating disease that required serious medical attention — he was close to death.
All the driving was adding up for the 83-year-old, especially when you consider how expensive gas is in BC.
When Blue Bomber Alumni member Mike Hameluck heard that James needed help, he wanted to do whatever he could to make sure the jersey stayed in James’ possession.
“I was thinking, I wouldn’t want to have to sell my rings or my jerseys or my trophies. To me, it was important that we stepped up as alumni to see if we could help secure that stuff,” Hameluck said on the CJOB Sports Show. “The effort that goes into winning those trophies and having them as family heirlooms is very, very important.”
Hameluck and the Blue Bomber Alumni Association started a GoFundMe page for James, with the goal of raising $10,000.
The community contributed in earnest and the goal was achieved, something for which the longtime running back is eternally grateful.
“I have had younger kids give $50, former players that I played and coached hockey with and even some fans that still watch Bomber games, they have stepped up,” James said.
“I can’t even talk about it because I get so choked up.”
James was initially hesitant to take Hameluck up on his offer to ask the public for help.
“First of all, my wife and I didn’t want to do that because we felt it would be an imposition,” James explained. “But after talking to Mike and knowing how the thing worked, because I’m not a tech guy… and when you get a phone call from a doctor at 10 p.m. telling you your son’s life is in danger, that’s when I decided that I needed help.”
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Hameluck felt it was a no-brainer to step in to help.
“As alumni, we try to give back as much as we can, and when it’s one of your own, it’s just as important. Everybody just came together,” Hameluck said.
“It’s a really good feeling when it does come together and it all works out. For all the years that he put into sports, it was his turn.”
“He needed a little bit of help and we were just happy that we could all get together and help Gerry and his family out.”
As for Gerry’s son, Brady is working on his recovery.
“He just got out of the hospital Tuesday and was trying to walk to his apartment and pulled some stitches, overdid the walking part, so had an operation to redo the stitches because his body has about 300-400 stitches,” James said. “I think that maybe another day or two in hospital we’ll be able to get together.”
In the end, James was blown away by the response, and wants everyone to know how much he appreciates the help.
“I just want to thank Mike and Donna and all the people involved. I know a lot of people that have given to us and I know their names. I’ll try to contact them or say something to them because I just don’t know where to turn. I just want to thank everybody.”