GREEN BAY – Every summer, Packers players exit the doors of Lambeau Field and are quickly greeted by a collection of eager children, anxiously waiting with their bicycles in tow.
One of the Packers' most hallowed traditions, players find a bike to ride down to training camp for open public practices at Ray Nitschke Field. Smiles are exchanged, memories are made, and occasionally longtime friendships are forged.
Over the last five years, there has been perhaps no stronger bond between player and rider than the one shared between center Corey Linsley and young teen Travis Kohlbeck.
Their friendship, rooted in happenstance, was fortified during Linsley's rookie season when Kohlbeck’s mother, Alicia, was hospitalized with an illness during training camp. While Alicia eventually made a full recovery, Linsley purchased Travis a brand-new bike to help lift his spirits through a difficult time.
"I think we were brought together for a reason," said Linsley in August 2017. "It's great walking out there and being able to step outside of the daily stress we go through and spend time with somebody who doesn't necessarily care about that, and is just happy to be with you because of who you are."
In the years that followed, Linsley and his future wife, Anna, grew close with the entire Kohlbeck family. Linsley's parents, Jim and Laurie, would tailgate at the Kohlbeck's Ashwaubenon home. Corey also attends Travis' youth football games and the two families often share holiday dinners together.
Now, Corey and Anna are again stepping up to help their Green Bay family after Travis' dad, John, slipped into a coma last month following surgery for necrotizing fasciitis, a serious bacterial infection on his thigh.
To help cover the family's extensive medical costs, the Linsleys are hosting a fundraising event, "Rock For John," on April 17 from 6:30-10 p.m. at Badger State Brewing.
"The Kohlbecks have become like our extended family over the past five years in Green Bay," said Anna Linsley in a video announcing the event.
"Unfortunately, Travis' father, John, was recently faced with a very serious medical situation. He has been in a coma since March 3 and undergone upwards of 10 medical procedures and surgeries due to a very rare medical infection. It has been an extremely trying time for the Kohlbecks' family and friends."
The event will feature local cover band Johnny Wad, a silent auction, basket raffle and T-shirt sale. Tickets are available for $15 online. A GoFundMe page also has been established for those unable to attend.