Central Illinois native wins Chicago Bears ‘Fan of the Year’ and trip to Super Bowl
PEORIA (25 News Now) - To say Corey Schieler is a big Bears fan is a big understatement.
“I’ve been a Bears fan my whole life. It started when I was 10 years, it actually was the 1985 Super Bowl season. And it’s been a passion of mine ever since,” Schieler said.
But his fandom is far more than just football. It’s family.
“Football’s always meant family. So, I can still recall when I was 10 years old, we’d come home from church, I’d tear off my Sunday clothes and get into my Bears gear and sit down with my dad and it was really just about spending time with family, making memories cheering on your favorite team,” explained Schieler.
25 News anchor Kyle Beachy sat down with Schieler at his home in Normal, where Corey proudly shared his most precious Bears memories, taking his family to games. He talked all about the 1985 Bears and that magical Super Bowl season. His favorite player, Walter Payton, had a big influence on his own football career, inspiring him to “leave it all on the field.”
Schieler played football in Fairbury at Prairie Central and then at Illinois Wesleyan University where he played fullback and linebacker.
But being a Bears fan hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows since that ‘85 Super Bowl.
“The Chicago Bears have not always been the easiest team to love. But it’s just like family, you’ve got to put up with the good and the bad sometimes,” Schieler said.
After a co-worker nominated him for ‘Fan of the Year,’ the Chicago Bears surprised Schieler with a presentation on the field during a game.
Here’s the video posted to the Chicago Bears Twitter page of the moment he was surprised by former Bears linebacker Micky Pruitt.
“And then told us we’re going to the Super Bowl and I was blown out of my mind. It was a pretty cool surprise to say the least,” said Schieler.
“Being named the Bears fan of the year means a lot to me. Especially this last year, my dad passed away unexpectedly. A few months before I was able to take him to the Veteran’s Day game and spend that special day with him. To watch the flyover,” explained Schieler as he became emotional.
A Vietnam Veteran, Corey’s father Duane instilled in him the love for the Bears.
“Go Bears will be something I hear from him for many years to come.”
But it wasn’t just the passion for Bears football that earned him this honor.
“My wife and I have been doing Make-A-Wish for the last 12 years. We’ve helped grant over 34 wishes and it’s just a really special thing for us to be a part of,” explained Schieler.
It all started in 2009. Schieler’s neighbor, 6-year-old Cait had a wish.
“She had brittle bone disease, and she wanted a mobility dog. The family told us how much a mobility dog cost. My wife and I talked it over and we said we were going to help them raise the money for the dog. I put together a carnival in our neighborhood as a really great way to bring the community together. We raised over $26,000 in less than three weeks. We were not only able to get her a dog but also give the rest of the funds to other families for them to be able to get their mobility dogs as well,” said Schieler.
Since 2009, Schieler and his wife Pam have made dozens of wishes come true.
“Just one act of kindness kind of gets you hooked,” he said.
“Cait, even though she was only 6-years-old at the time, had a favorite quote. It was ‘Be the change you want to see in this world.’ And I just adopted that as my life’s inspiration.
That desire to give back was also something he learned from his parents, Duane and Diane.
“When my dad was a medic in Vietnam in 1968, he would write home to my mom about the orphanage that he and the team would go help serve medically. And he would ask for my mom to help as much as she could to get things for these orphans. She sent over 3000 pounds of clothes and food and toys for them. And I always knew that story growing up and it meant so much to me that even in the midst of a war, my parents were giving back to people halfway around the world,” explained Schieler.
Now Corey and Pam are on the way to the Super Bowl in February to represent the Bears among all 32 ‘Fan of the Year’ winners, and they will continue their mission to make the world a better place.
He finished by saying, “I wish for the Bears to have a better season next year. That’s always the hope. But again, spending time with family means the world to me so that’s what I’m most thankful for.”
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