Aaron Rodgers surprises Shorewood neighborhood

Sept. 24, 2014

Shorewood — It was a quiet Sunday morning in Shorewood when all of a sudden the doorbell rang.

Standing on the doorstep was Aaron Rodgers — the same Aaron Rodgers who led the Green Bay Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XLV and was the 2011 NFL MVP. Rodgers politely introduced himself and his 12-year-old friend Annie Bartosz , who is encouraging people to raise awareness of pediatric cancer by wearing gold in the month of September.

Needless to say, it was a heart-warming moment for Matt Parlow to open the door and hear Aaron and Annie explain their cause. As Parlow was talking to Annie and Aaron, his 5-year-old daughter Maya came to the door out of curiosity.

"Hey Maya, you know how we love the Packers? That's Mr. Rodgers, and he plays quarterback for the Packers," Parlow explained to his daughter. "And this is his friend who is talking about a really important organization that helps kids who are sick."

As excited as he was to meet Rodgers, Parlow said he was more excited to introduce his daughter to Annie's cause.

"That meant more to me than anything else," Parlow said. "As a father, it was a moment to introduce her to Annie, who is a great role model and proves that kids can make a difference in the world. I was happy to be able to have that moment with my daughter."

The entire experience was documented for ItsAaron.com, a web video series that documents surprise visits from Rodgers to kids who have fought a disease or made a difference in helping others. The latest episode with Annie, which was filmed on Sept. 7, was pitched to Annie as a media interview promoting her cause. After tears and hugs were exchanged, Aaron and Annie went door-to-door handing out fliers on Harcourt Place, a cul-de-sac neighborhood near Atwater Park.

One of the neighbors, Patricia Garrity, missed the doorbell when Aaron rang because she was busy pulling a tray of cookies out of the oven. When a neighbor called to tell her she missed Aaron Rodgers, she took the tray of cookies out to give to the film crew, who directed her over to Aaron and Annie. They said they enjoyed her pecan sandies.

Garrity said she was impressed by her brief interaction with Aaron and Annie.

"He seemed like such a calm, genuine and gentle guy," Garrity said of Aaron. "I was also really impressed with Annie's poise. She's quite an exceptional young girl."

Annie created the Gold in September initiative two years ago when her twin brother, Jack, died of cancer. Rodgers had previously met Jack, and in the video, said it was difficult to deal with the boy's death. At the end of the video, Rodgers told Annie that Jack would be proud of her efforts to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.

"He was courageous. He inspired a lot of people, myself included," Rodgers said. "Now his legacy is living on with you."

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