He can remember the date.
“It was Feb. 6, 2003,” Jerry Parins said.
More significantly, it was the day Parins’ life changed forever. It was the day Parins discovered he had cancer.
“Oh, Jerry, you’re OK. You’re running, you’re lifting,” Parins recalled of the reaction of his friends and family, but he knew differently. He knew something was wrong and it turned out he was right.
“I beat you by three months,” his interviewer said. “Nov. 10, 2002.”
The two men, one the long-time security director for the Green Bay Packers and the other the newbie editor of the team’s website, found they share a bond. They both have beaten the “Big C,” at least for now.
Oh, yeah, that broke the ice, but this is about Parins’ annual “Cruise for Cancer,” not the length of the two men’s scars.
“I’d like to be an advocate. I was sick when I started my ride,” Parins said.
Yeah, you start to reach for importance in your life in times of personal challenge. Cancer becomes your enemy and you attack it in any way you can. Parins found a way to enjoin two loves of his life, motorcycles and the Packers, in his battle against the disease that was attacking him.
“Motorcycling is my life. I had the greatest job in the world riding motorcycles for the Green Bay Police Department,” Parins said.
Most would say, of course, that Parins left the Green Bay Police Department for the greatest job in the world, the task of protecting the Green Bay Packers from harm as the team’s first-ever full-time director of security and, now, its senior security advisor. Oh, the stories.
On Friday, July 29, as the team Parins protects hopefully prepares to open training camp, he’ll host his “Cruise for Cancer” motorcycle ride, a 40-mile roll down the Bay of Green Bay from Peshtigo to Lambeau Field. The registration cost is $20 per driver and $15 per passenger and those who don’t drive or ride can hang out at Lambeau for five bucks and wait for the thunder to arrive, which is expected to happen at about 5 p.m., following a 3:30 p.m. start in Peshtigo.
Shortly after the bikes are parked at Lambeau, the “Cruise for Cancer” tailgate party begins. The party will include live entertainment, silent and live auctions and food and beverage for purchase. All proceeds from the event, of course, will go to cancer-related organizations.
Maybe Parins will even tell you one of his stories. Ask him which Packers player was the most difficult to protect. Ask him who his favorite Packer is. Ask him which coach he taught to ride a motorcycle.
Heck, I’ll give you the last two.
“I taught Coach Holmgren how to ride a motorcycle,” Parins said.
“I guess my favorite Packer … one of the most fantastic persons is Bart Starr. I wish he had been more of a success as a coach and as a GM,” Parins said.
His fondest memory is his most recent.
“I had been to Dallas so many times and had never won a game. I finally got my win in Dallas. That’s probably the biggest win,” he said.
There’s another win in Parins’ life that might be bigger.
Register online for “Cruise for Cancer” and be eligible to win a Charles Woodson autographed mini-helmet.