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Wehr’s enthusiasm remembered by Chicago Bears

John Catalano Glenbrook North High School athletic director welcomed Collfamily Oct. 6 GBN's Lutz Stadium. Northbrook's CollWehr with his friend

John Catalano, Glenbrook North High School athletic director, welcomed Collin and family Oct. 6 at GBN's Lutz Stadium. Northbrook's Collin Wehr with his friend Ben Silver, 10, on the left. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 29, 2013 10:01AM

NORTHBROOK—For a boy who captured the heart of a community, Collin Wehr of Northbrook, who died early March 20, enlightened the Chicago Bears with his color commentary.

“He was such a happy and optimistic kid despite the enormous adversity he faced on a daily basis,” said Former Bear Tom Waddle.

Waddle, who today is an announcer for ESPN 1000, also famous for “The Final Word” on FOX Chicago,

came to know Collin almost two years ago (early football season 2011) when the youngster visited the Chicago Bears for his Make-A-Wish Foundation request—to be a NFL Network announcer.

And Waddle says Collin nailed it.

“We were up at Halas Hall, we sat and kind of had a conversation about his intense love and loyalty toward the Bears.

“And we kind of gave him an opportunity to be field reporter and just kind of had a great time,” recalled Waddle.

“It was just a great experience, it was a beautiful day for so many reasons.”

The only day they spent face to face, the two pals kept in touch.

“And after that, he (Collin) would contact me and we would email back,” said Waddle, who began to chuckle.

“He would give me a hard time (about some of Waddle’s picks/predictions).”

“They had him on live (on one of the shows, based out of Los Angeles), “ recalled Waddle.

“They did his (Collin’s) top ten favorite NFL network personalities and of course, (Waddle said to Collin), ‘I am number one.’

“But he was so good too,” recalled Waddle, of Collin’s color commentary.

“He had all of his questions prepared.

“So many kids with or without the adversity, they struggle with the moment, and he was just sharp, he was really cool, he wasn’t overwhelmed by the celebrity.

“My lasting memory was how good he was at what he was doing and how I was doing this (broadcasting) for 20 years and he aced it on his first try.”

Wehr, born 2001, was the son of Ray and Joan Wehr and brother of (older sister) Ramsay, a Glenbrook North H.S. student. He was diagnosed January 25, 2010 with a brain tumor.

Waddle and Ray Wehr exchanged texts the afternoon of March 20.

“You know, I actually wrote to Ray (Wehr), a few moments ago,” revealed Waddle who then mused: “Our lives are defined by how we touch others, he was just a young boy.

“He (Collin) touched my life in such a way, it moves you and changes how you look, especially as a parent, I think…”

Waddle, who was a Chicago Bears wide receiver (1989-1994) and lives in Lake Forest, has four daughters (ages 20, 17, 15, 9) with his wife Cara.

Waddle says the last email exchange from Collin was around this past (2013) Super Bowl when Jim Harbaugh (Chicago Bears quarterback 1987-1993) coached the San Francisco 49ers.

Harbaugh’s brother John, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, lost in that 34-31 showdown.

“I told him I was rooting for the 49ers because Jim Harbaugh was my quarterback when I played (for the Bears).”

Added Waddle: “For a young man who faced enormous adversity, he had such a great sense of humor.

“His (Collin’s) enthusiasm was unbridled and his perspective on life was as optimistic as anyone I have ever been around.”

The Chicago Bears offered its statement: “Collin Wehr captured the hearts of so many people in the Chicago Bears organization from the first moment he entered Halas Hall.

“We feel honored to have had the opportunity to spend time with him and the Wehr family on several occasions.

“We have such fond memories of their visits to Halas Hall, and the photographs that we took will serve as warm reminders of this cherished young man and the sport he loved so much.

“Collin will always be a part of the Bears football family, and his positive attitude, spunky personality, and engaging smile will never be forgotten.

“We will greatly miss our dear friend.”

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