The 2022 Packers Road Trip spent an eventful first day on the road bringing Green and Gold joy and meaningful messages to Packers fans from Green Bay to Wausau.
A deluxe motorcoach, emblazed with the phrase "Power of the Pack" and a Highway 22 sign, carried the group, which included President/CEO Mark Murphy, alumni Tramon Williams, James Starks, Mike Neal, Tony Moll, Jason Spitz and Scott Wells, to the first day's series of stops.
The first destination was the ancestral home of the Packers, Green Bay East High School and City Stadium, the team's playing grounds from 1925 to 1956. Summer school was in session at East, and the students were outside the greet the Packers and hear what they had to say on the subject of perseverance.
Before introducing the players to speak, Murphy first saluted the students for furthering their education and personal growth by taking part in summer sessions at the school.
Scott Wells shared his own hardscrabble story about initially getting cut in 2004 and then working his way into the starting lineup a couple seasons later.
"It's what you do with the opportunity you're given," said Wells. "You're going to have setbacks and you're going to get knocked out. You have to get up, putting one foot in front of the other.
"It does not matter where you start. It's how you finish."
Spitz provided a lighter moment when he described what happened when he saw fellow road tripper Neal and the shape he has kept himself in.
"I felt good about my personal appearance until I saw Mike Neal's arms," said Spitz.
The students then had the opportunity to take part in some football drills on the field with the former players.
Before departing, Murphy presented the school a $5,000 donation to support the physical education program.
Former Green Bay Packers players Tramon Williams, James Starks, Mike Neal, Tony Moll, Jason Spitz, Scott Wells and President/CEO Mark Murphy departed Wednesday on a five-day "Packers Road Trip." The tour bus made its first stop of the day at Green Bay East High School.
A midday stop at Rawhide Youth Services in New London saw the group enjoy a delicious spaghetti lunch with the residents. They heard how the organization helps teens and young adults work on their struggles with mental health, emotional and behavioral challenges to find joy and healing.
Rawhide has a special connection with the Packers as Bart Starr helped the organization get started in 1965.
The message of perseverance resonated here as well. Many of the youth shared some of their challenges with the Packers group.
Wells encouraged the youth to keep up their efforts, reminding them, "It's not dog in fight, but fight in dog."
Murphy took the opportunity to tease a Bears fan by asking him if he was aware that the Packers have an opportunity this season to overtake Chicago for the leader in all-time wins in NFL history.
"I am well aware of that, yes," the fan said with a smile.
After lunch, Rawhide director of development Sean Tiernan gave the group a tour of the campus and reiterated how the organization's caring approach has changed the lives of thousands of youths over the years.
"These kids have never been supported and believed in, and we're able to do that here," he said. "It's powerful and makes a difference."
In the afternoon, the group enjoyed a visit to the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King and had the opportunity to thank them for their service and hear their stories, including a few Navy stories from Kermit Peterson, who had just celebrated his 102nd birthday this week.
Tom Jensen, a veteran from New Holstein, was thrilled to visit with the players. He even asked for an autograph on his forehead.
"I'm going to take my hat off and never take a bath again," he said with a laugh. "This will create a laugh up on the floor."
Staff member Susie Miller, who has worked at the home for 17 years, liked seeing the veterans have fun with the visit.
"They definitely enjoy this," she said. "Packers games are a big deal here. We always get soda and popcorn and have our own little Packer parties on each floor, so this was great.
"They're probably all going to frame their signatures they got today and talk about it for weeks."
After departing the veterans home, the motorcoach made an ice cream stop at nearby Scoopers. Upon seeing a few of the players receive very generous one-scoop portions, others in the group adjusted their orders to the kids-size scoop. Even those were very plentiful. Murphy made a further adjustment and went with the baby size.
"I saw the size of those and wisely made the switch," he said.
The group arrived in Wausau for the night and looked forward to Day 2.
The Packers Road Trip continued on Wednesday afternoon with visits to Rawhide Youth Services and the Wisconsin Veterans home.