BEAVER DAM, Wis.––Vincent Dale Cox, age seven.
Vincent Thomas Lombardi, would be age 97.
Their paths crossed today at John's Bar in Beaver Dam where several Lombardi-era Packers raised funds for the young Cox who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare disease called fanconi anemia. Affectionately and appropriately, at least one player called it the "St. Vincent Fund."
"[Former Packers wide receiver] Carroll Dale's grandson happens to be named Vincent like Vince Lombardi," explained Dave Robinson on Thursday. "He just had a bone marrow transplant. He's doing much better, but he had tremendously large medical bills. We're just trying to do a little bit to try to help raise some money to give to Carroll Dale to help pay for the bills of his grandson."
Robinson was an outside linebacker with the Packers for 10 seasons including three NFL titles. He was also a multiple-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro. But more at hand, Robinson has teamed up with author Royce Boyles to write The Lombardi Legacy, a collection of interviews with people touched by Lombardi from players to players' wives.
Robinson and Boyles organized the three day book signing tour in support of the "Lombardi Champions Saving Vincent." They're selling books for $50, of which $25 is going to help pay for medical costs for the young Cox.
Grandfather Carroll Dale said, "They had to wait until he was in the critical stage before bone marrow transplants can be done. And that happened April 15. He's still in Minneapolis at the Ronald McDonald House, an outpatient at the University of Minnesota's Children's Hospital, and he's scheduled to be released at the end of the month."
All told, six former players are taking part in the book signing/fund raising tour. Joining Dale and Robinson are two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Boyd Dowler, soon-to-be Packers Hall of Fame inductee Marv Fleming, two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jesse Whittenton and two-time Super Bowl winning wide receiver Bob Long.
Also joining them on tour are former player wives Peggy (Ron) Kostelnik Spalding, Vicky (Lionel) Aldridge Nelson, Ruth (Elijah) Pitts Litman and Pat (Coach Red) Cochran. Joining them are Lombardi secretary Lori Keck and player personnel director Pat Peppler. All were interviewed for the book The Lombardi Legacy.
According to Dale, there aren't many other teams that could pull off something like this. There probably aren't many alumni of sixties-era Bills or Chargers teams, for example, getting together to raise funds for a friend in need.
"Giving time to a teammate just shows that what we've said for years, that we have great love for one another," said Dale. "Years ago we quit shaking hands and started embracing, and that's pretty good for football players to hug each other. But we do. We have a great deal of feeling. And so the guys are giving of themselves, and we appreciate that very much. It's just awesome."
For $50, fans and supporters get the book and autographs from all 13 people involved.
If today's event in Beaver Dam was any indication, it's an opportunity for fans to get up close and personal with some of their Packers heroes. It wasn't uncommon for the Lombardi-era Packers to spend minutes at a time conversing with patrons, which is a far cry from many other autograph events to which fans have become accustomed.
"It's a great book plus it's a good cause," said Long. "That's why we're all here."
The group's travels continue tomorrow, Friday July 16 at Oneida Casino in Green Bay from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then at the Redwood in in Denmark, Wis. from 6 to 8 p.m.
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