OKLAHOMA CITY – Chad Berger hadn’t been feeling well this past week, but he wanted to make sure he held up his end of the bargain and attend an autograph signing at Langston’s Western Wear on Saturday afternoon.
Berger was running a little late when a family leaving the store recognized the reigning Stock Contractor of the Year walking in and asked for an autograph.
After chatting for a few minutes, Berger asked if they would be attending the Built Ford Tough Series event later that night.
“They said, ‘We would just love to, but we can’t afford it,’” Berger recalled. “You could see they were pretty sad. I asked their grandmother for a phone number. I said I am not going to promise you anything, but I am going to see if I can get you some tickets.”
Berger came through though, and he arranged for seven tickets for Donna Grimm and her family.
“It is that feeling you get in your heart that they wished they could be here (Saturday) night,” Berger added. “I wanted to make that happen. It is something you just know.”
Grimm was “floored” when she picked up the phone later that day and learned that she and her grandkids would be able to attend the event at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I just could not believe it,” she said. “I just couldn’t say enough about how thankful all of us were to have all of that happen. It was just absolutely amazing to have a gentleman of Chad Berger’s stature make sure our family went, and it speaks very highly of everybody in the PBR.”
She was even more excited for her grandson, Trevor. The 15-year-old high school wrestler is an avid PBR fan and aspiring bull rider. He immediately noticed Berger when they were leaving the store Saturday afternoon.
“It was amazing,” Trevor said. “I’m a huge fan. I watch every week on PBR LIVE and on TV. I was disappointed when my mom told me we couldn’t go, but when we heard he got us tickets (and saw) the smile on my brother’s and sister’s, my mom’s and grandma’s faces I was so thankful.”
On Sunday, Berger could still recall when Trevor hopped on the phone after hearing about the tickets.
“The 15-year-old said, ‘This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for us,’” Berger remembered. “You just thought they died and went to heaven. They were so happy. It made me tear up a little bit.”
Trevor was joined at the event by his siblings, Lukas (13), Emily (11) and Kayla (9), and his mother, Tiffany. His grandfather Ron was also there as the family watched Matt Triplett win Round 2 with a 90-point ride on Berger’s bull American Sniper.
Berger took his generosity one step further on Saturday night when he had his son-in-law JR Scott check in on the Grimms and get them hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, chicken fingers and anything else they may have wanted to eat.
“It was just a nice thing to do,” Berger said. “If we are blessed, as some of us are, it is a good feeling to do something for somebody that really can change their whole day and give them a little bit of hope.”
It was a memorable experience for the family.
“We all went and had a fantastic time,” Donna said. “It was phenomenal. We can’t say enough for what he did for us and the grandkids. It was just great. They treated us fabulous and made us feel like royalties and we got to enjoy the event whereas we would have stayed at home and watched it on TV.”
It is not the first time Berger has gone out of his way and done a charitable act. Yet, most of the time he keeps things quiet and doesn’t look for any publicity from them.
Last year, he helped raise more than $40,000 for St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in St. Anthony, North Dakota, which is less than 20 miles south of his Mandan ranch, to help repair the parish hall.
Berger was able to earn a large portion of the donation through a silent auction that he helped put together with an assortment of PBR memorabilia and autographs that were donated by a group of riders.
The only reason anyone caught wind of Berger’s gesture this weekend was when his daughter, Sadie, posted a Facebook status about it after she heard the story from Chris Pantani of Cooper Tires.
“My dad would have never told anyone either,” Sadie said. “I just thought that was something I wanted to share. He does stuff like that all of the time. He is always donating and buying things to help other people.
“He has a heart of gold.”
Sadie also knew how sick her father had been feeling the past couple of days, yet she wasn’t surprised one bit that he didn’t back out of his appearances.
“If he says he is going to do something, he is going to do it no matter what,” she said. “That just shows what his character is and what he is about.”
While, yes, there was a monetary value to Berger’s actions this weekend, he reiterated what he hopes everyone will remember.
“To be kind, it is free,” Berger concluded. “It don’t cost you anything to be nice to people.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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