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"Yeah," Dungy says, "but it doesn't get you through the nights."
And pretty soon they've got this bond going. Dungy has a wife, five kids, the monster job, numerous charities he works with and a thousand things to do, yet he takes the time to answer every Lemke e-mail, gives him his cell number and returns every call. They go deep sometimes. Lemke gets hot at God for taking Cory. Dungy tells him that's normal, but he adds that if they keep their faith, "we'll see them again."
Then it's the playoffs, and Dungy is apologizing for not replying to Lemke right away. Sorry about not getting back to you, he e-mails Lemke one day. Sometimes I can go a few days without getting on my computer, especially if our defense is not playing well.
I ask you, who is that nice?
Next thing you know, the Colts are in the Super Bowl and Dungy is inviting a man he's never met, a Vikings fan, no less, to be his guest there. So Lemke finds a load that needs hauling to Florida and a load that has to come back, and he drives his 18-wheel rig to Miami. The day before the game he meets Dungy in person at the team hotel. They hug. They visit. They pray. The next day Lemke takes his seat in Dolphin Stadium and watches his new buddy win it all.
And this is only one stranger whom Tony Dungy has befriended. There's the former high school coach in Wisconsin whose son committed suicide. There's the young kid in Indianapolis who lost his mother and brother in a car wreck. Heartbroken people all over are suddenly getting a hand up from a man who himself should be a puddle but is instead a river of strength.
Yet Dungy refuses to talk to the media about these good deeds, which only makes them better.
"I'm awfully grateful to him," Lemke says. "He helped me keep my faith. He taught me that he and I—we're not alone."
After two weeks of hearing about how low man can sink, isn't it nice to know how high he can rise?
Tony Dungy stands as a reminder to every parent who's grieving right now that there is a way through the pain. And that way is through each other.