GREEN BAY (WITI) – Tradition rolls on, as it tends to do, and year after year Packers players pick a bike before practice and ride from Lambeau to Ray Nitschke Field during Training Camp. Some of those players, if they choose, pick a bike and a rider to pair with for the entire summer. Corey Linsley picked a go-to guy on the second day of practice.
“When I met him, I was surprised when he picked me,” said 10-year-old Travis Kohlbeck from Green Bay.
Kohlbeck and the rookie offensive lineman Linsley have been riding together every practice since. Linsley says, at first, Travis was a little quiet, but he opened up. They talked about their day, the weather, normal stuff.
But what came next didn’t surprise Travis’ father.
“My son Travis, he’s a big talker. I’m guessing he told Corey the whole story -- what’s going on," John Kohlbeck, Travis' father said.
What was going on was a tough time for the Kohlbecks. Travis’ mom Alicia dealt with headaches for some time before going to a doctor. An MRI showed a brain hemorrhage. That was followed by a week in the hospital.
“It’s going to be a long road [to getting healthy], but it helps having a ray of sunshine there,” Alicia Kohlbeck, Travis' mom said.
That ray of sunshine was provided by her son’s new Packers pal. Learning about Travis’ mom being in the hospital, Linsley asked for the family’s phone number. He called and asked permission to buy Travis a new bike.
“My heart just burst wide open. To have someone do that for your child that they hardly even know, the generosity of their own heart, it’s heart-warming," Alicia Kohlbeck said.
Travis says he was “happy that [Linsley] cares for our family.”
He was also excited, as 10-year-olds tend to be, about shopping for a new bike. He and Linsley went on Linsley’s day off from practice, to two stores, settling on a new Schwinn from Toys’R Us.
“He was thrilled. You should’ve seen the smile on his face. It was awesome," Linsley said.
A photo of Linsley, Travis and the new bike was posted on Facebook and Twitter and went viral, landing Travis on plenty of national sports websites. Travis said the whole experience left him feeling “Awesome, cool and very excited.” His football-playing bike rider says he’s just happy to help a family in any way he could.
“Anybody who lent out a helping hand to me [when I was younger], it was the greatest thing in the world. I figured he was the same way. He was a lot like I was, a ball of energy, couldn’t control me. I knew he’d appreciate that. That’s why I did that," Linsley said.
Travis says he hopes Linsley is a Packer for years to come, and is making sure his friends are aware just what makes Green Bay’s rookie center special. His family is thankful for the gesture, too.
“Literally took my breath away. I didn’t have enough words to praise or thank you when I talked to him. It was unreal," John Kohlbeck said.