The Green Bay Packers' "Tailgate Tour" hits the road next week, and "Tour" newcomer Charlie Peprah is curious to find out what it's like meeting fans on their turf.
"We get to visit the communities versus them coming into our element at the practice fields," Peprah said. "We get to go where they are and show them love. It's going to be fun to interact with "Packer Nation" across the state."
The "Tour," a goodwill trek through five Wisconsin cities in five days, raises money for local non-profit organizations via tailgate parties in the various locales. Along the way, the "Tour" also makes unannounced stops, often at schools.
Seeing the younger generation of fans made a strong impression on fullback John Kuhn during his "Tour" two years ago.
"They're surprise stops, and the kids don't know until the day you get there," Kuhn said. "Whether it's an elementary school all the way up to a high school, they're so excited. They really treasure the Green Bay Packers, and they really look up to us, so it's great to see their faces and see how much they put into that moment."
The "Tour" departs Lambeau Field next Tuesday, May 15, and will conclude its first day in La Crosse. From there, it will continue to Madison on Wednesday, Kenosha on Thursday, Cedarburg/Grafton on Friday and Sturgeon Bay on Saturday.
Of the current Packers, Peprah will be joined on this year's Tour by receiver Jordy Nelson and kicker Mason Crosby. President/CEO Mark Murphy also will make the trip, along with former Packers William Henderson, Marco Rivera and Larry McCarren.
Nelson is going on the "Tour" for a second time. Three years ago, he recalled meeting a teenager at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Marshfield who had broken his back in a dirt-bike accident, and seeing soldiers going through training exercises at Fort McCoy.
"They see us without our helmets, and I think they enjoy it," Nelson said of all the fans. "I enjoy the question-and-answer sessions we'll do. They always have questions. It's their opportunity to ask whatever they want to ask, something different and not necessarily about football. It's always interesting. You never know what question you'll get."
There's also no telling how many fans might show up at a tailgate party. Last year, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, linebacker Desmond Bishop was blown away by the turnout.
"We were in this huge building, with thousands of people," he said. "We were there all night signing autographs, and we signed for every single last person who came through the line. To go to the U.P. and see first-hand how deep our fan base was, it was good."
Kuhn said that part of the reason for the fans' enthusiasm at a lot of the stops is the difficulty associated with securing tickets to see the team play at Lambeau Field. It doesn't make them any less of a fan.
"Some fans don't get to come to the games, so it's great to experience a die-hard fan's perspective that you don't see every day," he said. "We get to places around the state where our fans don't normally get to meet the Packers."
Those are the fans Peprah is looking forward to meeting the most.
"They're the reason why we're the Green Bay Packers," he said. "It's a blessing to try to give back."
For more information on the Tailgate Tour, including how to purchase tailgate party tickets, click here.