I first met Cody Yelm to talk about his love for the Chicago Bears and coach Dick Jauron about 17-18 years ago.
Jauron, a Peoria native who coached the Bears from 1999-2003 and later with the Buffalo Bills, took a special liking to the boy from Princeton, inviting him to the Bears training camp every year as his special guest.
Cody and his family were given the royal treatment around training camp, meeting many of the Bears players, including Mike Brown and Charles “Peanut” Tillman, who especially made Cody welcome.
He was also invited to have lunch with the coach at Halas Hall, and this June, he attended the Chicago Bears’ 100-year celebration.
Sadly, we lost Cody, who passed away at age 26 on Sept. 19. He was a survivor of S.I.D.S. when he was six months old.
Cody was my kind of sports kid, one who loved his Chicago sports teams, Bears, Cubs, Bulls, White Sox, Black Hawks — he loved them all.
No matter what communicating limitations he may have had, Cody clearly expressed his love for all of his favorites.
Sharing his story was one of the all-time favorites I’ve had the pleasure to tell here at the BCR.
What I also gained that day was the love and devotion Cody’s parents, Curtis and Charlotte, bestowed upon their son. It was clear they never viewed his special needs as a burden, just simply love and devotion for their beloved son.
I’ve learned later that Cody shared a love for golf with his father, who is multi-club champion at Wyaton Hills Golf Course.
Thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation, Cody and family got to go to the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews Course in Scotland, a family trip that will never be forgotten. Cody attended the BMW Championship this August and met many of his favorite golfers, such as Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Harold Varner III.
I’d like to thank Cody and his parents for allowing me the opportunity to share his story, one that I will never forget. Every time I drove by his house in Princeton, I smiled and wondered how Cody was doing. I thought about stopping at times, and now I wish I would have.
As you watch the Chicago Bears, think about Cody, who loved them so much. He’s now got the best seat in the house.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at email@example.com.