BEREA, Ohio — Bryan Stork loves the Browns—so much so that from miles away in Columbus, he cheers them on each week loyally. That’s why he entered to win the Dedicated Dawgs Sweepstakes held by the team.
The sweepstakes began last season in partnership with CrossCountry Mortgage (CCM) and featured numerous prizes—but the big one, the one everyone hoped to win, was $50,000 in cash to create the ultimate fan cave.
Bryan entered the sweepstakes, and nearly forgot about the entry. But the team didn't, and they randomly selected Bryan as the winner of the contest.
Wanting to surprise Bryan, the Browns and CCM came up with a plan—tell him that he and his family were invited for an exclusive tour of the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus in Berea over the weekend to celebrate him being a finalist. In their planning, the team and partner organizations worked with United Service Organizations after learning Bryan's wife Lisa was serving in the Air National Guard on extended deployment in New Jersey.
They didn't share those plans with Bryan, however.
So, Bryan loaded up the car with his two young children, 10-year-old Maggie and 7-year-old Myles, and drove to Berea from Columbus.
"It started out as a pretty chaotic day trying to get the kids up and out the door," Bryan laughed.
A bit of a rough start didn't hamper the Storks' excitement and once arriving in Berea, the family was shown around the facilities, guided through by CCM and Browns reps.
But as the tour concluded, a stop in the team’s locker room was in order to get the full experience of the facilities—at least that’s what Bryan and his kids expected. What greeted them in the locker room was much more special than a view of where the Browns get dressed in their gear.
Standing on the other side of the wall entering the locker room was Lisa, who has been away from her family for the past month on deployment.
Myles was the first to round the corner and when he saw his mom, froze in place, shocked but clearly delighted. But Bryan and Maggie still didn't know the big secret and called for Myles to come back around the corner. Myles, putting on his best poker face, obliged and somehow kept the secret for the next few moments until his sister and dad made their way to the other side of the wall.
"What!?" Bryan shouted when he set eyes on Lisa, while his two children ran into her embrace. "Holy cow."
As the family embraced and reconnected after several longs weeks apart, another surprise awaited them while they took their picture in front of a special locker set up exclusively for Bryan.
Just around the corner from the locker, Browns guard Wyatt Teller waited patiently for his cue, and as he entered the locker room, CCM reps let the Storks know that they were the grand prize recipients of the $50,000—a surprise Lisa wasn't even aware of.
"I thought we were surprising my family," Lisa said through tears.
Today the #Browns surprised the Stork family, reuniting Bryan with his wife Lisa, who has been in New Jersey serving in the Air National Guard.— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) March 12, 2022
Their two kids got to see their mom for the first time in weeks.
But to top it off, the family of Browns fans were awarded $50,000. pic.twitter.com/EbJ1zjeQ8s
Teller, who comes from a military family himself, was excited to be a part of the big day for that reason.
"Coming from a military family, it meant a lot because, luckily my dad didn't have to leave us a lot, but I couldn't image at that age not seeing your mom for that long, and seeing [Myles], he wouldn't let go of her," Teller said.
The money awarded to the Storks was outlined to build a fan cave, but the Storks have the freedom to use it however they'd like. And for them, that means paying it forward somehow.
"I'm very overwhelmed and so unbelievably grateful," Lisa said. "I just want to be able to use it for good. I'm very thankful and I feel very blessed."
Lisa explained that this week was a particularly tough one for Bryan as the anniversary of his father's death approaches, so to be able to be home to support him while also being back with her children made Saturday's surprise extra meaningful. And while the money was a very appreciated addition to the day, nothing can measure up to the family being reunited.
"I didn't even think this was a possibility, just to have her here and for my kids' sake too, they've been missing her a lot while she's been gone. Just to see my son kind of wrap his arms around her, there's so many cool things here and we've been blessed with so much today, but that was awesome," Bryan said. "Marrying my wife and the birth of my children are like the top three experiences—this is going to nudge itself into the top five for sure, this was unbelievable."
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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