Voting is underway to choose the 12th member of the Green Bay Packers Fan Hall of Fame -- and Racine's Jim Becker is among the ten finalists. The Packers were the first professional football team to establish a Fan Hall of Fame, something they did in 1998.
Only one of this year's finalists says the Packers saved his life -- and that one is Racine's Jim Becker!
Here's Jim's story:
Jim's father took him to his first Packers game when he was 11 years old. It was a exhibition game in Kenosha in 1941 and the seed was planted.To read all ten nominees' stories, (and then to vote online for Jim!) go HERE. You can also text your vote; instructions for that are HERE. The deadline is midnight, Jan. 31. The winner will be announced at Packer Fan Fest on March 12.
When Jim returned from serving in the Army during the Korean War, he started going to see every game he could. He became a "Milwaukee" season ticket holder, and has attended games every year from 1952 until last year. This year was the first year he hasn't gone because of difficulty walking and standing brought on by frostbite incurred during the war.
Jim is now 79. Along with his wife, Patricia, he raised 11 children (all Packer Fans).
Needless to say, money was tight; Jim had season tickets to pay for, but he wouldn't take money away from the family. So he found out he could sell his blood for $15 a pint. Problem solved.
Now you might be asking, " So how did the Packers save his life." During a routine physical by his employer, Jim had to fill out a questionnaire with his family's medical history. The doctor noticed that Jim's father died at age 43, of hemochromatosis.
Jim had to be tested. He had it. What is it? It is a condition that retains excessive amounts of iron in your blood. The only treatment is to remove the iron by giving blood. By then, Jim had sold 145 pints of blood to pay for his season tickets. If he hadn't, he very well might have died like his father. "His love of the Packers saved his life."
To this day, Jim still donates 3-4 times a month. Jim has attended 206 games; he's kept records of the date, score and highlights of each game. He has been to three world championships. He also has been to the three coldest games on record, including the "Ice Bowl" where, after the game, he and a friend went down to the 50-yard line and drank a toast to the Packers. If that wasn't enough, he is in the picture of the fans at "Ice Bowl" in the Hall of Fame.
Jim has passed on his love of the Packers to all his children. They will be the first to tell you that when the Packers were on TV (the sound turned down on the TV and the game tuned into the radio) that if you had to go between Dad and the game you had to crawl on your belly as to not block his view. He took great pleasure in being responsible for taking a lot of people to their first game. He has made the Packers a family tradition. He is a deserving choice for the Packer Fan Hall of Fame.
The honoree will receive four club seats to a 2010 Packers home game, a $500 pro shop gift certificate, a road trip for two to an away game, including game ticket, air fare and hotel. And, the winners name will be permanently displayed in the Packers Hall of Fame.