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A seat on the 50: Hospice patient relives football memories at CCU game
By Jason Lesley
Before he retired and moved to the Tradition community at Litchfield, David Heineck never missed a University of Wisconsin football game.
He had seats on the 39-yard line and watched the Badgers with a solid group of friends year after year. Even in the lean 1980s, that was living, Heineck said. Coach Barry Alvarez arrived in Madison in 1990 and Big Ten championships and Rose Bowl wins followed. The best of times, he remembers.
When one of Heineck’s friends came into some money and moved up to a glass skybox at Camp Randall Stadium, the man realized that he’d made a mistake.
“You can’t say anything up there,” Heineck explained. “He wasn’t having any fun.”
Heineck retired as a colonel with the Air Force Reserve and as an actuary for the state of Wisconsin Insurance Commission, and he and his wife, Myra, decided to move away from the harsh winters. They chose Litchfield and settled into retirement.
Even though he could watch the Badgers on TV occasionally, David missed going to games. He thought about going to a Coastal Carolina game, but Myra was not a big fan and he put it off.
Heineck is having some health problems these days, and he is a patient of Hospice Care of South Carolina. When he wished he could see a Coastal Carolina football game, social worker Shannon Dennison got the wheels turning.
Cindy McLaughlin, community relations liaison for the hospice organization, contacted officials at Coastal and received free tickets to the game against Liberty and vouchers for hamburgers. Platinum Limo and Extreme Limo offered to drive Heineck, his nurse and others to the game and back home for free.
Everything was all set for a golden October Saturday, like the ones back in Madison that Heineck remembered. But nobody told the weatherman.
Saturday was a windy, rainy day thanks to Hurricane Sandy. But Coastal Carolina moved Heineck, registered nurse John Altman and the rest of his party to the president’s suite for the game. It was first-class all the way.
Heineck couldn’t believe the padded chair on the 50-yard line was his, but he took a seat and clapped his hands in excitement when Coastal’s LaDarius Hawthorne returned an interception 66 yards for the Chanticleers’ first touchdown.
Heineck praised hard tackles and pass completions, sometimes pounding his fist into his palm as punctuation.
At halftime, Terri DeCenzo, wife of the university president, brought him a school hat and T-shirt and welcomed him to the game. President David DeCenzo came by later and called Heineck a good luck charm, as the Chanticleers were winning against a team that scored 63 points against them last season.
Heineck enjoyed a barbecue sandwich from the president’s buffet, and the Chants finished off Liberty 36-12.
He stayed till the end, loving every minute.
“That was a lot of fun,” Heineck said getting into the limo for the ride home.