'Boss' Richard and 'Boss Hertzog at the Tailgate party
Meeting up with Yancey Thigpen pregame
Richard and his dad on the sideline. A dream come true.
Steeler fans packed LP Field in Tennessee by the thousands on Thursday night hoping to see a Steeler victory. There were Black and Gold jerseys everywhere, and obviously most were disappointed in the outcome of the game. A small group of Steeler faithful, however, had the thrill of a lifetime just by being there to see the game.
The fact that the Steelers’ lost isn’t the story here. Actually, this story puts simple wins and losses into perspective, and reminds people what is truly important in life.
Families go to Steeler games together all the time. But what’s special about seven year old Richard Culliver and his family attending this game together is the path they’ve taken to get there.
Richard’s journey to his first Steeler game started just a couple weeks ago, when his mother noticed he was ‘walking a little funny’ and took him to the doctors to get checked out. He was admitted to the hospital and immediately had an MRI. A few short hours later the results were in and his family heard the words no parent ever want to hear.
Richard had a tennis ball-size tumor in the center of his brain, and it was inoperable.
The doctors diagnosed him with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gilioma. Simply put, brain cancer.
This form of cancer is extremely rare, affecting only 200-300 children worldwide each year. Even worse, the outlook for children with this form of cancer is very bleak, with survival time usually only 9-12 months.
With the advanced state of Richard’s tumor, the doctor’s only gave him 2 months left to live.
Richard finally was released from the hospital, and was sent home to enjoy however long he had left in his young life.
One of his dreams? To be able to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play in person with his dad.
His father, Brian, is a member of the Augusta SteelMasters, Georgia’s official Pittsburgh Steelers fan club, and when our friends at the SteelMasters heard about his wish, they jumped into action to make that dream come true. They supplied them with transportation to Tennessee, and tickets to the game.
Richard couldn’t believe he was going to get to see his favorite team play in person, and went out with his dad as soon as he heard to get outfitted with some new Steeler gear to wear to the game.
His journey was just starting, however.
When he saw his picture and story being told on Ben Roethlisberger’s website, he was overwhelmed and told his parents he probably needed a Twitter account now that he’s famous!
When Richard and the SteelMasters rolled into Tennessee for the game, they made sure they did everything in Black and Gold style! That included stopping by the Steel City Mafia booth and meeting up with the Bosses.
The SCM had Ray Seals and Yancey Thigpen tailgating with them, so before the game Richard was able to meet up with a few actual Steelers. The real celebrity though was Richard, getting his picture with taken with everybody, signing autographs, and even being interviewed by a local Nashville news crew.
Heading to the game, things got even better. Thanks to Coach Tomlin, Richard and his family had field passes, so they were able to see all of his favorite Steelers up close and personal. In the tunnel, the Tennessee cheerleaders even approached Richard and asked if they could get their picture with him, since they heard he was a pretty big celebrity now!
While the Steelers didn’t come away with a victory, the more important story is that a little boy was able to live out his dream. In the future when they look back on this adventure, they might not even remember who won or lost the game. What they’ll always remember is the memories they made sharing this special day with such a special boy.
I hope that when people hear the story of Richard and his wish coming true, they take a step back and reflect on what really is important. While we’d love to see the Steelers win every game, don’t get too upset and stressed when they lose. Don’t get too high and ecstatic when they win.
Instead enjoy the experiences you have with your family while you’re watching the games. Make memories with your dad at the stadium. Spend a Sunday afternoon with your entire family, and even though you’ll be rooting hard for the Steelers to win, make sure you sit back and enjoy these special times. Go to a Mafia event and make memories with your extended Famiglia, those are the things that are truly important in life.
Sometimes we need somebody special like Richard to remind us all of that.
The Steel City Mafia will continue to send it’s collective thoughts and prayers to the Culliver family as they continue on this journey.
To donate money to help offset any extra medical expenses, you visit the Augusta SteelMasters page at:
You can also check out their page on Face Book: