To be titled one of the Green Bay Packers Ultimate Fans is a title thousands of true Packers-backers would cherish for a lifetime. And while every Packers fan has his or her own justification, one lucky fan reigned in the title after winning the Packers Partners Ultimate Fan Club Challenge.
Each year, the Packers Partners Club of Champions holds the Ultimate Fan Club Challenge, giving club members a chance to receive not only the title, but also a gameday prize package. This year's contest was a 200-word essay describing his or her "fondest Packers memory."
After internal staff members voted on the entries, Ray Stroinski from Thorp, Wis., was chosen as the winner. Stroinski's prize package includes outdoor club seat tickets, parking pass, ambassador line pass with pre-game sideline access, gameday programs and tickets to the Mike McCarthy show for the Dec. 5 game.
Stroinski, a Packers Partners member since 2004, did not describe a Packers victory as his fondest memory, but rather a moment he was able to share with his family while visiting Lambeau Field.
"In 2005, we took three of our grandsons, ages 5, 6 and 9 to family day. We spent the day around Lambeau Field. We were in the atrium around 4 p.m., before they closed to get ready for the evening. The boys were walking around, looking at everything, when a man, Red Batty, came up to us and asked if these were our grandchildren. He said he had been watching them and they were very good boys. He told us to follow him and he took us on a tour of the stadium where most people don't get to see. He took us in the locker rooms and had the boys try on helmets and jerseys of their favorite players. We saw the weight room, shoe room, game room, snack machine, sewing room where ladies were fixing jerseys, down through the tunnel and out on the field. I was taking many pictures and when I ran out of film, they gave me a disposable camera to finish. Red said he picks one family each year for this tour. Out of 70,000 people there that day, he chose us. The boys are still talking about that day and so are we. What an experience for all!"
When first learning he had won the Ultimate Fan Club Challenge, Stroinski was in the middle of the woods.
"I couldn't believe I had won," Stroinski said. "I was up at my cabin in the woods at the time. My wife answered the phone call, but they said they couldn't give her the details, so she had to come find me in the woods so I could call the Packers back.
"Once I told the rest of my family the news, I think they were just as thrilled as I was, maybe even more. My three grandsons were especially excited. Even though my daughter and son will be joining me at the game, the boys understood and are still excited.
"We put together a photo album for each of the boys, of our trip to Lambeau, so they will always remember that day."
Stroinski, who tries to make it to at least two games a year, was eager to make it to Lambeau as a special guest this time.
And after attending Sunday's Packers-49ers game, with pregame sideline access, Stroinski now has another memorable moment to add to his list.
"We were definitely excited to attend the game, but the chance to be on the sideline before the game was extra special," he said.
"The treatment we were given from the Packers was absolutely fabulous. We couldn't have had a better time. Standing on the sidelines, we could hear some of the San Francisco players complaining about the weather and we just laughed. It was an opportunity we will never forget."
Fans interested in joining the Packers official fan club can visit www.packers.com/ppcc for more information, or call 920-569-7247.