CHICAGO – Heartbreak came to a child this week, but the soul of a community came together to do what they could to heal it.
It’s sports at its finest even when this example comes due to a pair of tragedies to one family.
Two years after the passing of his wife Caitlin following a long battle with melanoma, ESPN Chicago Bears beat reporter Jeff Dickerson died at the age of 43 due to complications from colon cancer. I never met him, but the picture painted by so many in the sports media industry portrayed his incredible impact on so many careers, from seasoned veterans to those just getting into the business.
The examples below are just a few of the many that are too numerous to list here.
The tributes on the airwaves and on social media would carry over to Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, where Dickerson’s life was honored alongside a football legend.
A moment of silence was held in his along with Hall of Famer John Madden, who passed away on Tuesday as well, with the tribute coming ahead of the Bears’ 29-3 win over the Giants.
While all of these are tremendous eulogies to the many, the greatest humanity shown for the man has come in ensuring his legacy continues through the last surviving member of his family: His 11-year old son Parker.
A GoFundMe started not long after the announcement of Dickerson’s death has brought an outpouring of support the like of which is rarely seen. As of Monday, the fund has gone over $1 million, with donations featuring a who’s who from the sports and media world.
The Chicago Bears, head coach Matt Nagy along with quarterback Andy Dalton were among those on the team he covered who made a donation. Members of the Cubs, White Sox, and Blackhawks also made contributions along with other franchises, including the Packers, Rams, and Vikings. Colts owner Jim Irsay and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie were among those to make a financial gift to Parker through the GoFundMe.
Members of the media both in Chicago and elsewhere also pledged what they could along with fans who followed his work or knew of his story.
Chicago-based Obvious Shirts created gear to sell to fans in order to add to the GoFundMe and currently have the top single donation of $28,500.
All of this has been done in order to support Parker, who is an 11-year old who will spend his formative years without either one of his parents. Almost all of those who donated don’t know the child personally, but knowing his father, they decided it was important to keep his legacy going.
The best of so many showed the best of humanity in Week 17 of the 2021 NFL season.