GRAND CHUTE – It’s not often rousing chants of “Go Pack Go!” echo through the Fox Cities Stadium, but when they do, the Packers backers make it count.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson appreciated every cheer.
Following in the steps of famed Green Bay Packers Brett Favre and Donald Driver, the wide receiver was the headliner in the inaugural Jordy Nelson Charity Softball Game on Neuroscience Group Field in Grand Chute.
While the annual event began almost two decades ago as the Brett Favre Charity Softball Game, this was the first year Nelson hosted the game. Fans — more than 7,300 of them — were thrilled to have him.
“He’s my top-time, all-time favorite player, so I had to come this year,” said Kaitlynn Kepsky, 16, of Clintonville.
Jordy Nelson Charity Softball Game
Fans cheered on as the Packers offense faced off against the defense and special teams, propelling an early lead into a 26-11 victory.
“We appreciate the support and we hope they had a good time,” Nelson said. “I know we did as players.”
Before the game, Nelson presented a $75,000 check to Young Life, a faith-based nonprofit that works with middle and high school students.
“A gift that size is incredibly unusual for us, so what it really offers is the ability to be creative,” said Kirk Foote, the Young Life Green Bay area director. “We have a team who will be helping us come up with the best way to use that money long-term so the legacy of today’s gift lives on for a very long time.”
On the sidelines, fans waited anxiously for players to sign footballs, jerseys and posters or purchased raffle tickets for a chance to win some signed memorabilia.
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Ollie Brien of Appleton snagged more than a dozen autographs on three yellow-and-green helmets he purchased a few days before the game for himself and his two adult children.
“We used to go to the Donald Driver game to support the cause and support the team,” he said. “We think it’s a really, really fun event.”
The casual game gave fans a chance to see some of their favorite Packers at ease and out of uniform.
“It’s fun to see them out of their element and having fun,” said Heather Johnson, who has season tickets to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers partially so she can attend the charity game at the same stadium. She and Craig Gunnlaugsson heard about the event last year and had such a great time, they decided to return in 2014.
It was the first time on the baseball diamond for Jayrone Elliott, who signed with the Packers in May.
“This is way more than I expected,” the linebacker said. “It was a great game. We lost, but at the same time, I got to interact with the fans and get involved with the community. That’s what it’s all about.”
— Ariel Cheung: 920-993-1000, ext. 430, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @arielfab
postcrescent.com, see videos of:
• Fans, players excited to be part of the game
• Sights, sounds from the event