The emotions hit me hard Thursday morning.
I walked into work and unexpectedly found a black shoebox with my name on it in a silver Sharpie. A pair of size 12 pink Nikes were inside, and the connection became clear.
A few months ago, the Vikings had every staff member fill out a form that indicated your shoe size, which type of cancer awareness you support and if you have a personal connection to the disease.
This gift of shoes from the Wilf family is just another reason I'm beyond lucky to work for such an incredible organization.
It's personal for everyone, whether it's a family friend or a former coach. And it hits home especially hard when the personal connection is your own mom, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2015.
I've written about her before on Vikings.com, how she attended the Crucial Catch game in 2016 when the Vikings beat the Texans. She was included in the group of those impacted who participated in the halftime celebration.
She won't be in attendance today against the Cardinals, but the connections are ever present. My mom lives in Arizona and is actually coming to town in a little more than a week to visit me and my fiancée.
My mom has had an up-and-down battle over the years. She was declared cancer-free in September of 2015, but then the cancer came back.
She wrestled it again, but she found out last year when I was in London for the Vikings game that it was back again.
And she had been doing really well before she called and told me last month that she was going back on chemo after a little hiatus because her doctor was concerned it was coming back again.
It's a daily battle for her, which is why I am damn proud to represent her today by wearing my bright pink shoes.
I'll look down at my feet and be reminded once again of the courageous and fearless woman that is my mother.
Vikings Owners Mark, Zygi and Lenny Wilf provided every staff member with a pair of "Crucial Catch" Nike shoes in the color representing the type of cancer that has personally affected that individual or his/her family.
As part of the NFL's Crucial Catch initiative, the Wilf family ownership group of the Vikings has provided football and non-football employees with a pair of custom Nike shoes to wear during today's game. More than 400 pairs of shoes representing 11 categories of cancer have been delivered to coaches, staff, cheerleaders, flag runners and the SKOL Line to show support for those who are battling cancer and their caregivers, as well as pay tribute to the lives claimed by cancer.
The following colors represent cancers:
Navy — Colon cancer
Pink — Breast cancer
Teal — Cervical cancer
Blue — Prostate cancer
Gold — Pediatric cancer
Emerald green — Liver cancer
White — Lung cancer
Gray — Brain cancer
Orange — Kidney cancer
Purple — Pancreatic cancer
Black — Melanoma
Grace Fickling in the Vikings Social Impact Department said all 11 cancer categories are represented, and breast cancer was selected by more than one-fourth of the Vikings employees.
"I think seeing coaches do it and people like [General Manager] Rick [Spielman], you see the on-field presence," Fickling said. "All of those people, even though they're larger than life characters, still are affected by it. It doesn't discriminate. It affects everybody."