Teague Elementary teacher Rhonda Jacobs receives encouraging phone call from idol.
By Reesha Brown
Teague Elementary teacher Rhonda Jacobs is the ultimate Peyton Manning fan.
She began following the two-time Super Bowl quarterback’s career from his days on the gridiron with the University of Tennessee through his retirement from the Denver Broncos this year and had always dreamed of meeting him.
That dream began to fade when she was diagnosed with cancer in July. Throughout her battle with cancer, Manning has been her idol and inspiration.
“When I am at M.D. Anderson for treatments, I put on my earbuds and listen to Peyton Manning talk during press conferences,” Jacobs said. “His voice calms me down.”
On Halloween Day, Jacobs’ fading dream rekindled as she received an unexpected phone call while driving home from work.
“I was driving home and unknown appeared on my phone,” Jacobs said. “I answered the phone and the person on the other line said, ‘This is Peyton Manning.’ I was speechless.”
This was no trick, but rather a memorable treat that she plans to hold on to for the rest of her life.
“I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” Jacobs said. “After about two or three sentences, I knew that was his voice and I started freaking out. He did most of the talking and it was awesome.”
Manning reached out to Jacobs after learning that she was diagnosed with cancer from her colleague Nikki Seymour, Teague school nurse. Seymour contacted Manning’s PeyBack Foundation, which typically provides support for at-risk children.
“I wrote the organization and explained that we are not kids, but you are not going to meet a bigger fan than her. Within 30 minutes, his agent, who works side-by side with Peyton called me,” Seymour said. “Peyton wanted to do something special for Rhonda. It was amazing how quickly the organization responded to me.”
During the five minute call, Manning offered Jacobs words of encouragement to help her through her struggle with cancer.
“He said there will be dark days and I told him that I have already experienced some of those, but he said you just have to go through adversity and keep your faith strong.”
She got close to meeting him when she saved up to go to a Denver Broncos game.
“He was upset that he didn’t get to play,” Jacobs said. “I told him that I was with him in spirit and he said it was awesome that I am that much of a devoted fan.”
In addition to the call, Manning offered her a rare, yet, intangible gift.
“I explained to him that I have begun the first round of chemotherapy, and I have 16 more to go, but I’ve got this,” she said. “I told him I have a lot of prayers coming my way. And then he told me, ‘Well, I do know you have a lot of prayers. I‘ve heard a lot of people are praying for you. I’ve been praying for you, so you can add me to your list because I’ve added you to mine.’”
Holding on to stacks of Manning pictures, listening to press conferences, keeping Manning memorabilia around the house and even naming her Labrador and school mascot Peyton, has been enough to help her through cancer treatments, she added this was just the medicine she needed to fight it.
“That was really him on the phone,” Jacobs said. “He is my everything. It’s God, Jesus and then Peyton. That is the way it’s always been. This was the greatest moment of my life.”