While many young boys have dreams of playing in the National Football League when they grow up, Sedalia Middle School student Connor Ladd not only wants to play in the NFL, but his football bucket list is a little more involved than that.
Ladd wants to visit every NFL stadium and he is well on his way, having already traveled to eight stadiums in the last two years.
“It started last year at Thanksgiving break when I asked my mom if it would be all right to write letters to every team in the NFL,” Ladd said. “I want to go to every stadium and get a hat from them.
“I’d really like to go to a game too at each one,” Ladd added. “For now I’m really happy with what I have gotten to see.”
There are 32 teams in the NFL and Ladd and his family has traveled to the stadiums of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos, The Indianapolis Colts, the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ladd has attended a game at Arrowhead Stadium, the home of his favorite team, the Chiefs.
“I didn’t get to take a tour or anything when we went,” Ladd said with a smile. “But it kinda felt like we were on a tour when we were trying to find our seats.
“They were in the nosebleed section,” he added.
His mother, Holly Ladd, reminded him that there really were not bad seats, just some that were better.
Ironically, the Chiefs were not the first team to respond to the young man.
“The (Tennessee) Titans were the first team I heard from,” Ladd said. “They sent me some really neat stuff including some hats and a team flag.”
His mother added that for the first response they set the bar rather high with all of the merchandise they sent her son.
“There were a few days in there that we were receiving at least one package a day,” Ladd said. “One day I had two.”
Ladd commented he thought it was funny that KC rivals Denver and Oakland sent their merchandise to him before Kansas City did, adding that he assumed it was because the Chiefs probably received more requests since they were a Missouri team.
“So far I have heard from 15 teams and I remember everything I got from each one of them,” Ladd said. “Miami really sent me some neat stuff including a mini pendant, some pens and pencils and a computer flash drive.”
Ladd said it took him a few days to write the letter and then edit it but he has been thrilled with the results.
The fifth grader plays safety on his football team and said he has dreams of playing in the NFL someday for the Chiefs.
“We watch football all the time and I love the game,” Ladd added. “I love the contact and that I can run into people and not get into trouble when I hit them,” he said with another smile.
For now, the family is planning for their next road trip.
“We make runs of them,” Holly Ladd said of her son’s dream. “I think we can get to four more this summer (the Tennessee Titans, the Washington Redskins, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Carolina Panthers).
“It really is a true bucket list for him. On the last trip we stood outside in the rain during rush hour just to get a photo of him at Three Rivers Stadium where the Steelers play,” she added. “The Pirates were playing a baseball game at the time but we didn’t care because we were there.”
Holly Ladd said it has helped that gas prices are now lower, saying the family — husband Jessee Ladd, Connor’s twin sister Jessalynn and older brother Dominic — all pile into the family vehicle and head out on the adventures.
“I know the trips are expensive,” Connor said. “The hats are really expensive but I really want to thank my family for this and all the teams too who have sent me stuff. I don’t think I will ever forget this.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484