Originally Published: January 31, 2015 6:03 a.m.
PRESCOTT, Arizona - On Jan. 8, a 62-year-old local man, who wishes to remain anonymous, phoned the Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters (YBBBS) office here and asked a serious question: I have an extra ticket to the Super Bowl Feb. 1 in Glendale. Who wants to join me?
You see, his wife was supposed to attend the Big Game with him this weekend, but she has a dog show. So she thought he should give the ticket to someone who'd probably never have the chance to get his or her hands on one.
YBBBS program director Lisa Sahady, on the job since the beginning of January, took his call.
Initially, Sahady wasn't sure what to tell him. She knew he couldn't take a "Little," one of the organization's mentored youth, because he'd need a background check. And she thought none of the "Bigs," the Littles' adult mentors, would want to go with someone they didn't know.
Then, suddenly, it became clear.
After discussing the matter with YBBBS Executive Director Kathleen Murphy Jan. 9, Sahady and Murphy decided that YBBBS' activities and partnership promoter, Justin Corbell, 18, should get the ticket. Corbell's single, he's a pro football fan, and he's never been to an NFL contest.
"He's always wanted to go to a professional game," said Sahady, an Arizona Cardinals backer who attends one regular-season game a year at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the site of Sunday's Super Bowl, with her family. "Justin being a Big himself for two years and being really active with the organization, he was the perfect candidate for it."
When Sahady first told Corbell the news, he was in shock.
Although Corbell didn't know the man, he couldn't let the opportunity of a lifetime pass him by. This is the Super Bowl, after all, and tickets cost thousands of dollars each.
"I didn't really process it until I got home, and I was just jumping for joy," Corbell said in reflection Jan. 22 from the YBBBS office off Willow Lake Road. "I was looking for a hidden camera somewhere. I thought I was being pranked. I'd have to sell my truck to get a ticket."
Corbell accepted the man's ticket as a gift. Corbell will be his guest for Super Bowl XLIX, pitting the Seattle Seahawks versus the New England Patriots.
"I feel very blessed," said Corbell, a Prescott native and 2014 graduate of Chino Valley High, who thanked Sahady profusely.
Added Sahady, "I hope it's the experience of a lifetime for him and that he can soak it all in and just enjoy it. It's amazing going to your first game live, and to be able to do that at the Super Bowl is unfathomable for me."
Ironically, two of the four NFL teams that advanced to the conference championships Jan. 18 are Corbell's favorites. However, both of those squads, the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts, lost.
"I was hoping one of them would get in, to be honest with you. But I'm happy," Corbell said. "I'm going to the Super Bowl, so I don't care."
Corbell's a big Packers fan, and yet earlier this month he bought a Seahawks jersey to wear to the Big Game. Although the Seahawks beat the Packers for the NFC title, Corbell dislikes the Patriots.
The man who donated the ticket said he's a Packers' backer too.
Growing up, Corbell played baseball and basketball, but he mainly rodeoed as a standout team roper, calf roper and chute dogger.
"I always wanted to play football, but I never had time," he said.
The anonymous donor said he won two Super Bowl tickets in a random drawing last October. When his wife backed out, he needed a Plan B. NFL rules said he could scalp only one of the tickets. But if he did that, he couldn't control who sat next to him.
"You put your name in, and they pick some people," he added about the random drawing. "I'm not like the Tooth Fairy. I can't sell these tickets. I can invite whomever I want as a guest. And that's how they come into the stadium, as a guest of mine."
Complicating the matter was that he didn't want to ask one of his friends. So he approached YBBBS about giving away the ticket.
"I stopped at City Hall first because I was trying to think of some way to do this," he said. "I talked to a lady down there, and she knows everybody in town. And so she gave me the name for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and said, 'I know exactly who that is and they'll find somebody for ya.' "
Corbell seems a deserving choice. An AmeriCorps Vista partner with YBBBS, Corbell works full-time at YBBBS. Corbell's enrolled at Yavapai College, but he's taken the spring semester off and will return in the fall.
He's hardly rolling in the dough, YBBBS marketing/recruitment director Jill Anderson said. Nevertheless, Corbell said he wants to pay for gas and dinner on the Super Bowl trip.
Over the past four months, Corbell has written all of YBBBS' "Child of the Week" columns for The Daily Courier. He also plans all of YBBBS' events for the "Littles," the youngsters that the organization's Bigs guide by taking them out into the community to do worthwhile activities.
"He makes like no money and he works his tail off," Anderson said. "He's doing amazing things in the community. I really could not do my job without Justin."
Corbell and the man who donated the ticket have talked about when they should hit the road Sunday.
They'll drive to Phoenix, probably in the late morning or early afternoon, because the tickets are at the stadium's will-call window. The game kicks off around 4:30.
Super Bowl organizers recommend fans arrive at the venue two hours before kickoff to soak in an elaborate fan experience.
Like Corbell, this will be the older man's first time at the Super Bowl. He grew up in Wisconsin, where he became fond of the Packers.
He's bummed about the Packers losing to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship. But he's excited to take Corbell to the Big Game.
"I feel great about it because most of my friends, if they wanted to, could buy a ticket," he said. "When I was a kid, I never had a chance to go because they (Super Bowl tickets) were expensive even then. I hope we have a good time. There's so much to do."
Follow Doug Cook on Twitter @dougout_dc