At Upper Room Christian Church on Wednesday, relatives wore black — and red, the Chiefs’ color. Pastor Dawn Mixon shared that Belcher’s mother, Cheryl Shepherd, described him as a “humble, kind young man.” He had a soft spot for children and loved cartoons.
“We may not understand the reasons why we are here or understand what caused this tragedy,” Mixon said.
At a celebration of Belcher’s life, there were hints of the way it ended. A photo slide show played on a large screen above the stage, with images from Belcher’s childhood through his football careers at nearby West Babylon High School and the University of Maine.
Then appeared the words “In loving memory of” Belcher and Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter. After a series of pictures of Perkins and baby Zoey came the message, “Keep this little girl in your prayers.”
“The legacy we pass on to her will be good,” said his uncle, Davin Miles.
“It means so much to the veterans that (the Chiefs) take the time to come out and reaffirm just how special they are,” Michael Moore, Assistant Director of the VA Medical Center said. “We believe all of our veterans are special but I don’t want it to go unnoticed that we have an extra special group here. Every one of the veterans in this group is a former prisoner of war. We throw out the word hero a lot in our culture, but these are heroes.”
The heroes had a chance to interact with the Chiefs players, cheerleaders, ambassadors and Red Coaters and it was apparent from their beaming smiles that they were overjoyed and their spirits lifted.
“It was so great to meet some of these guys and the cheerleaders,” a former POW commented. “I got their autographs and my picture with them.”
“Last year, I was a Chiefs Cheerleader. I have been a cheerleader or dancer my whole life and I moved here from Arkansas to cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs. I started working out at Title Boxing Club with some of the girls for an alternative workout,” Wray said during an interview with KCMMA. “I really enjoyed it and started taking private lessons after a little while. One day, I came in and they wanted me to spar. I was nervous about someone actually punching me in the face, but I did it.
“I was absolutely horrible. This drove me to want it even more. I knew I had to make a choice between fighting and cheerleading. I chose fighting. I trained harder and took more private lessons. In the same shopping center was HDMMA and I wandered in there to see what was going on. Everyone was so nice and just not what I expected from a MMA gym. So, I started training there too. One thing led to another, and now I feel comfortable enough to compete in the cage.”
“It is Raider week, and the Raiders are a big rival,” Crennel said. “I think we get up and get ready to play against the Raiders because we know it’s going to be a tough, physical game and they’re going to give us everything they’ve got.”