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Jeremy Bellmyer had no clue why his boss asked to meet him at a bar on Monday after work.

Bellmyer, of Orion, Ill., drives a delivery truck for Milan-based Stern Beverage Inc., and Matt Stern, co-owner of the Budweiser distribution company, made the request.

In a text message, Stern also asked Bellmyer to bring his 10-year-old son, Jack, to Steve’s Old Time Tap in Rock Island, which further confused the single father of two.

Upon arrival, Stern surprised Bellmyer, who has endured more than a tough few months, by offering him a couple of vacation days this week. But the surprise didn’t end there.

As a gift for Jack, whose mother died in late July following a several-month battle with large B-cell lymphoma, Stern handed over two tickets to tonight's third game of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets.

“This is unbelievable,” Bellmyer said as his son examined the tickets with a smile. “I’m speechless.”

What Bellmyer didn’t know was that Stern had been in contact with his parents in Wyoming.

Bellmyer’s stepmother, Lisa Bellmyer, had connected with Stern in hopes of finding a way to send her grandson, “the biggest Cubs fan out there,” to a playoff game.

As a small crowd at the bar on 17th Street applauded the impromptu presentation, surprises kept coming.

Stern, who shares Cubs season tickets with Jeff Rusk, owner of Steve’s Old Time Tap, handed Bellmyer the keys to his Chicago condo, located across from Soldier Field.

Additionally, thanks to Rock Island-based Ride with Kelly Foundation, Inc., and Rick’s House of Hope in Davenport, which provide services to grieving children, the father-son duo received a $500 Visa gift card to purchase food and souvenirs in Wrigleyville.

Jack, a fifth grade student at C.R. Hanna in Orion, immediately asked his father if they could hit the road for Chicago straight from the bar.

Still shocked, Bellmyer said they planned on following their normal weeknight routine Monday night.

“We were going to go home and get our clothes ready for tomorrow and do our normal thing,” he said. “Now we’ve got a lot of things to do to get ready.”

Bellmyer said they planned to take the train from Galesburg to Chicago on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Jack, who favors Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro on the Cubs, said the National League All Stars “need to hit harder” to bring their squad back in the series, which the Mets lead 2-0.

“They just need to pull it off.”

Despite losing his mother to lymphoma, a cancerous growth of cells in the lymph system, Bellmyer said Jack has been “extremely focused.”

“It hasn’t been easy but he’s doing such a good job in school,” Bellmyer said. “This is the perfect thing.”

Stern couldn’t agree more.

“They deserve it,” Stern said. “They’ve been through a lot and just his expression was worth it all.”


Jack Cullen covers health, wellness and outdoor recreation for the Quad-City Times.