Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2005

Family primed for ‘Super’ reunion

February 3, 2005

One thing's for certain, Joe and Toni Lybarger, a long-time Basehor couple, are bound to have a lot more fun this SuperBowl weekend than you will. The Lybargers, winners of a Southwest Airlines SuperBowl sweepstakes giveaway, were to leave this morning for sunny Jacksonville, Fla.

And wait until you hear what they have lined up. . .

For starters, there's the all-expenses-paid trip valued at $17,250, four nights staying aboard a cruise ship and 11 tickets to Sunday's Eagles v. Patriots game. Plus, there's the opportunity to meet ESPN celebrity Chris Berman and NFL superstars like Peyton Manning, Jerome Bettis, Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez.

Oh, and don't forget that Paul McCartney, a favorite of Toni's, is performing during Sunday's halftime show.

Not a bad itinerary, huh?

However, it's not the warm Florida weather, the thrill of meeting four future NFL Hall of Famers or even McCartney's crooning that has the couple excited most. No, their excitement lies in reuniting with their children and grandchildren, all of whom will be the Lybargers' guest for the weekend and the game.

"It'll be our first family reunion in three years," Toni Lybarger said. "That's more important than anything else. The main thing is the kids get to go and I think that's just fantastic."

In December, Toni received word that she'd been selected as the winner of the airline giveaway. "Anybody could go online and put their name in and mine was picked out of all the people," she said. "My kids are just ecstatic."

On her contest form, Lybarger indicated her son, Scott, and daughter, Jody, would be coming to the game with her and her husband. Scott and his family live in Cocoa, Fla., and Jody and her family are Lawrence residents. Lybarger told airline officials that the SuperBowl weekend would be a great opportunity for a family reunion and that's just what the family has planned.

"I tell you, the highlight for me will be the kids getting to go and getting to meet everybody," Toni said.

On Friday, Toni will be the guest of honor during an NFL luncheon hosted by Berman. The Lybargers said they were planning to bring some Gates barbecue to Berman and get assorted memorabilia signed by Manning, the Indianapolis Colt gunslinger who this season broke the NFL single-season record for most passing touchdowns, and the Bus, Pittsburg Steeler's All Pro Jerome Bettis.

"Meeting Peyton Manning, to me will be quite a thrill," Joe said. "Jerome Bettis, too. We're really looking forward to it."

However, the couple, avid Chiefs fans, said the bigger thrill will be getting to meet hometown heroes Holmes and Gonzalez, both of whom Toni told NFL executives she'd like to meet most. Their tickets to the SuperBowl will be presented during the luncheon.

Some reports have placed the cost of tickets to the game between $3,000 and $6,000 each. Lybarger said it matters very little to her where the seats will be located. The game, featuring two teams she doesn't care that much about, is an added bonus, but not the main attraction of this weekend, she said.

"We'll all be together," she said. "That's the most important thing."

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