INDIANAPOLIS – Vikings, Packers and Randy Moss. It was must-see television for one night in Plymouth.
He wasn’t necessarily home by choice, deciding to come to the northern part of the state from Indiana State University after experiencing some headaches. Still Eric Day’s evening appeared to have a shot at being a memorable one, at first in a positive way.
“Keep in mind, I never missed a Vikings game my whole life,” said Day as he was setting up his story.
That night Minnesota faced Green Bay at Lambeau Field on a Sunday night. It was a closely contested game between quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers which eventually went against Day’s Vikings in a 28-24 Green Bay win.
Yet it wasn’t the loss of a football game that was most concerning for Day and his father that evening, but rather the Minnesota fan’s loss of interest.
“He comes up at halftime and goes ‘Eric, the score is..’ and I go ‘Dad, I don’t care’ and he’s like ‘Oh, you don’t care?’ and I go ‘No, dad, I don’t care’,” said Day. “He’s like ‘Alright, tomorrow we’re gonna take you to the doctor.”
From then on began a journey that last to this day and the start of a new mantra for the student to live by.
An exam later found a brain tumor in Day’s brain, one that would require a few brain surgeries soon after that Vikings game and then eventually radiation treatment at the start of 2012.
“I have brain cancer, I can take the positive approach or the negative approach,” said Day-and this embracing of the former led him to meet Erik Fromm.
The Butler junior forward isn’t a cancer patient, but over the past year his father Leonard was. A Dean at the Indiana University Law School, he was diagnosed early in 2012 and his road with the cancer featured a number of ups and downs.
“This summer he was in Italy with my mom and he was getting progressively sick through the whole time and we barely got him home,” said Fromm of the early days. “He had about 12 more hours before he wouldn’t have made it.”
But he did for seven more months even as it began to take away Leonard’s strength by eroding his spine, back and neck. Fromm credited his father’s five-day-a-week workout regimen along with his spirit for being able to fight for so long and keep his eyes on his son’s basketball career in Indianapolis.
“The nurses would tell me he would have all the nurses come in and sit down and watch the game with him and sometimes he would go in and out and he would tell them ‘If I fall asleep wake me up’ and they said ‘I’m not gonna do that, you need your sleep’ and stuff,” said Fromm of his father. “He was super proud of me and I know that.
“He was so happy after the IU game when I had five offensive rebounds he thought it was so cool.”
Fromm thought the same of his plans for his upcoming 21st birthday, which he would arrive at Midnight and celebrate the occasion with his father. That was going to be Monday, February 4th, but Leonard’s health wouldn’t wait.
“My mom told me Saturday right before we pass he always had a way of making things work, and he her that he didn’t want to pass away on my birthday or my sister’s birthday,” said Fromm. “My mom said he’s amazing because he knows, he doesn’t want you to have to share that grief on such a happy day.”
He wouldn’t. The Saturday before his 21st Leonard died after complications with pneumonia in the process of his cancer treatments.
“I have my moments where I feel at peace with it and there’s times where it’s really upsetting,” said Fromm, who spoke on his birthday of his father. “I just think about my dad’s attitude through his whole sickness and how optimistic and happy he was.”
Later in the interview, when again referencing his father’s positive outlook in his words and actions, Fromm looked down at a blue bracelet that he was wearing on his right wrist.
“One of my good buddies,” said Fromm when referencing the bracelet. That buddy was Eric Day, who had transferred from Indiana State to Butler.
During his treatments for cancer, Day encountered a six-year old girl who was enduring the same recovery that he was. He was helping to tutor the girl and the visits included a few games on an IPad along with some inspirational words that would stick with the man three times her elder.
“She’s six and she was more positive than anyone I’d ever been around,” said Day of the girl, who has since turned seven. “So I started spreading the word, and I started passing out these wristbands.”
They are simple. Dark blue in color-matching that of Butlers-with the words “Stay Positive” written in white along with “G3” which stands for God Gives the Glory. Day was wearing one on Tuesday when he came to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a chat with some of the members of the Butler basketball team.
He even had a few spare “Stay Positive” bracelets with him, giving one to a Bulldogs’ volleyball player during a workout.
“They signify when someone is having a bad day, there is somebody who is always worse off,” said Day of what he hope people will realize when they look down at the bracelets.
Fromm was not the first to get one of these on the Butler team since Day knew a number of the players before meeting the forward. When they did, Day’s positivity made an immediate impression.
“He told me he visited a little girl the other day and she was seven years old and she told him that the only disease in life is a negative attitude,” said Fromm. “So inspirational for a seven-year old.”
Over the next few months it would do the same, especially as his father’s condition went up and down.
“He definitely really enjoyed the wristband,” said Day. “Everytime he said he was having a downer, he would look down at his wrist and it would say ‘Stay Positive’, “Give God Glory’ and everything was going to be OK-and he knew it would be.”
After finishing an 11-minute interview on his father Monday, Fromm stood up and was ready to leave when reporters remembered the bracelet he spoke of minutes before. Video and Twitter pictures of it followed.
“It’s kinda sweeping the campus,” said Fromm of the “Stay Positive” bracelets. “I see more and more of them every day.”
Day didn’t really intend for that to happen when he began the campaign but can’t help but enjoy the effects which it has had on the increasing number of people sporting it on Butler’s campus.
“Realistically, I just did it for myself and for anyone that needed that extra help. It caught on,” said Day of the motto. “It’s really seems like its helping people out. and if that’s what it takes, just two words ‘Stay Positive’ to affect that many people. It’s doing its job.
“I’m really satisfied with it.”
Fromm is too. That includes the bracelet, his path moving forward, and a friend who has helped him through a tough time.
“He reminds me of my dad,” said the forward.
A look down towards his wrist will do the same.