MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Could it be possible that an 8-year-old from Anoka was behind Sunday’s Vikings win?
On Friday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer started his press conference by reading a thank you note from a little boy named Alex Loehlein:
“Dear Mr. Zimmer,
Thank you for letting me watch your practice last Saturday. It was fun. The players were nice to me and signed my Viking helmet. My grandpa said to expect good luck for you because you have used up all your bad luck already.
“So I appreciate Alex,” Zimmer said after reading the letter.
Alex doesn’t say much. He’s pretty shy. But give him a pen and paper, and some pretty amazing things followed.
And, as it turns out, a coach and an 8-year-old were exactly what each other needed.
Alex and his grandpa John are the best of friends.
“Pretty good pals,” said his grandpa, John Loehlein.
They play Donkey Kong, build legos and talk about the Vikings.
And a couple Saturdays ago, they got to watch a Vikings practice.
The two enjoyed the practice, so afterward Alex sat down with his grandpa to write a thank you note.
“It’s just what we do is send thank you notes,” said Alex’s mom , Jackie Loehlein. “Never thought that all this was going to happen out of the whole thing.”
After Anthony Barr’s incredible play in overtime gave the Vikings the win, Teddy Bridgewater knew where to give the credit. In a post-game interview, he called Alex “some of our good luck.”
“I told Alex, you are their good luck charm,” Jackie said.
In the locker room after the game, Zimmer read Alex’s letter again, to the entire team. Then he announced that he was giving one game ball to Alex, and another to Alex’s grandpa.
“At that point in time, I needed a little bit of a laugh,” Zimmer said.
Fitting, because it happened at a time when Alex really needed a bit of a smile.
Alex has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that weakens and eventually shuts down the muscles. There’s no cure, and few people live past 25.
“It’s very upsetting,” Jackie said, her voice filling with emotion. “It’s hard to smile and be happy about, knowing what he faces, and knowing that I might lose him some day, sooner than I should.”
Jackie says she’s hoping a cure will be found before it’s too late for Alex.
“It’s hard, but yeah, that’s all we really have, is the hope,” she said.
It’s a hope much more powerful than that of a football team, but one a football team definitely helped bolster.
“It’s weird how things happen,” Jackie said. “When you need things, you know, to smile or just be happy or forget about stuff for a while, is when things kind of happen like that.”
Alex and his grandpa got to go to Vikings practice through an organization called HopeKids, which provides events and activities for kids with life-threatening medical conditions.
If you want to support Alex’s fight of DMD, you can do that here.
And for another neat project that is helping to raise money for Alex’s treatment, visit here.