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Being a True Eleven
Richland Center athletes Andy and Aaron make an immeasurable difference to a family who suffered the ultimate tragedy.
Published: Summer 2003

During their junior year, linebacker Aaron Hobson and lineman Andy Troxel, also members of the RCHS Key Club, volunteered to become Big Buddies to a fifth grade student, Tyler, whose father had died in a tragic drowning accident a couple of years earlier. Throughout the year they met with Tyler on a weekly basis. They continued this relationship through the summer and extended their friendship to include Tyler’s two brothers, Devon, a third grader, and Cameron, a seventh grader. Unfortunately, when school started the following fall, the Big Buddy program was discontinued.
Shortly after, it was learned that the three boys’ mother was suffering from terminal cancer. When Aaron and Andy heard this, they immediately renewed their contact as “unofficial big buddies” and mentors. They visited with the boys on a regular basis, playing with them, listening to them and supporting them. Since their little buddies enjoyed football, one special event they arranged was for Devon, Tyler and Cameron to attend the 2002 homecoming football game as special guests of the team. Pictures were taken on the field before the game and the little buddies got to visit the locker room during halftime.
The boys’ mother related to school staff on several occasions how grateful she was for the relationship her boys had with their football buddies. Not only was it a support for her children, it provided a relief for her, especially since they had no extended family in the immediate area.
Just prior to Christmas, the little buddies’ mother died. One of the first requests the grieving boys made to their school counselor was to talk to their football big buddies. Andy, now in wrestling, and Aaron, in basketball, each arranged with their coaches to take time off from practice to visit the boys’ home and spend time with them. A few days later Andy and Aaron each used one of their allotted personal days to travel over 150 miles to attend the mother’s funeral. The boys’ relatives expressed how much that meant to Tyler, Devon and Cameron. It didn’t stop there. These two Big Buddies organized a collection of funds from classmates and teammates to help the boys. They visited them regularly during Christmas vacation until the boys moved out of state with relatives. Aaron and Andy continue to stay in contact with their little buddies through e-mail.
There are Elevens and then there are ELEVENS!

Homecoming 2002 pre-game with "The Buddies" (left to right) Devon, Aaron Hobson, Cameron, Andy Troxel and Tyler.
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