Meyer Headlines Spectacular First Night Aboard Buckeye Cruise
By Brandon Castel
With bursts of smoke and flashes of light, Urban Meyer took the stage like a rock star on Thursday night.
If he was playing lead guitar, they would have cheered for an encore.
Not quite a god, but certainly not just a man, Meyer didn’t have to walk out in front of the crowd aboard Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas. He didn’t run either.
Instead, Meyer and his family came up out of the floor on the stage of the Coral Theatre to the roar of the crowd, many of whom paid big money to be in attendance for such an important event.
Smoke from the fog machines filled the stage as strobe lights danced across floor. Urban waived to the crowd and his wife, Shelley, beamed. Their two daughters, Nicki and Gigi, joined them in a version of O-H-I-O as Ohio State’s football coach was unveiled like a late addition to the Miami Heat’s ‘Big Three.’
“I feel like Apollo Creed getting ready to fight Rocky,” he said with a sly smile, wearing his No. 1 Ohio State jersey with the name Meyer printed in white letters across the back.
The setting was right. It took place off the coast of Tampa Bay, aboard the sixth annual Buckeye Cruise for Cancer. Meyer looked every bit like a superstar up there. His girls too.
He was a superstar on this night, at least to the die hard Ohio State fans who came from all around the world – some as far Dubai – to cruise along the Gulf of Mexico with Meyer, his family and a number of famous players who wore the scarlet and gray with pride throughout the years.
“This is the only school in the country that could get a bunch of crazy Ohio State nuts together and fill up a boat,” Meyer said before his words were drowned out by applause.
“A really big boat. I mean a really, really, really big boat.”
Filled with really, really important people. The CEO of the James Cancer Center was there Thursday night. Same with the head of cardiovascular surgery. Archie Griffin was there too, along with a pair of fellow Heisman Trophy winners in Eddie George and Hopalong Cassady.
It was a quite a first night aboard the five-day, four-night cruise that will stop in Key West, Fla. and Coco Cay, Bahamas before returning to Tampa on Monday. The-Ozone was privileged to be among the sponsors of the cruise this year who were honored on stage during Thursday night’s ‘Buckeye Spectacular.’
It was a Pink Out, with the proceeds going towards the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for cancer research at The James Cancer Hospital. Meyer lost both of his parents to cancer, further emphasizing that this cruise is about more than just fun.
Though there was certainly plenty of that to go around on day one.
The best moment of the night, however, went to Kroger. The Cincinnati-based grocery chain presented a check for nearly $514,000 to Maddie and Noah Spielman, the children of former OSU linebacker Chris Spielman.
It was Spielman’s amazing wife Stephanie who spearheaded this cruise to stop cancer six years ago. It was an emotional moment for everyone to see their kids on stage accepting a check that was certain to put a smile on Stephanie’s face as she watched from above.
After coming down from his role as the main attraction, Meyer went right past his seat in the first row and spent the next 20 minutes talking privately with the two Spielman kids.
It was definitely a moment to remember.
Meyer eventually returned to his seat as the OSU alumni cheerleaders took the stage. They were followed shortly by Eddie, Archie and a host of other Buckeye greats. The list was almost too extensive to recount. It ranged from current NFL players like A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins and Kurt Coleman to longtime Buckeye legends like Tom Cousineau and Hopalong Cassady.
Scoonie Penn was there, along with guys like Mike Doss, Raymont Harris, Robert Smith, Bobby Carpenter, Anthony Schlegel, Jake Ballard, Dane Sanzenbacher, Todd Boeckman, Jim Cordle and many others. The night ended with a few prizes, and one woman received more than just a gift certificate.
She was brought on stage to receive a prize from Kroger. Instead, her boyfriend pulled out a ring. J.J. Sullinger made sure the guy got down on one knee, and Brutus was there to help her along in her decision.
She said yes. Another recruiting victory for Urban Meyer.
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