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A smile that spoke volumes

Posted Nov 27, 2017

Steelers bring happiness to a family in need of a smile.

Antonio Brown was just finishing up the Steelers’ final walk-through before Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers, when six-year old Wyatt Grube shyly asked him a question.

“How fast are you?” inquired Grube.

Brown smiled, and then figured there was only one way to answer the question.

“Why don’t I race you so you can see,” replied Brown.

Grube’s face lit up like a Christmas tree, and he jumped at the chance to go against the NFL’s best receiver. We all know Brown is fast, but truth be told, this was one race he didn’t win as Grube beat him by a hair.

“Man, you beat me,” said Brown afterwards.

And Grube’s smile, just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger, was about as big as it could possibly get.

It’s a smile that has been tough to come by for him and his family in recent months.

His father, Devon Grube, was a Navy SEAL for 12 years who had seen combat and been on numerous missions. Last December he was killed in a tragic accident off the coast of Virginia, just a few months before he was scheduled to leave the Navy, wanting to spend more time with his wife Margie, and their three young children.

Grube was a huge Steelers fan, and passed that love of the Steelers on to his son. The two even attended their first Steelers game together last year, not long before the accident.

The Steelers and Operation Once in a Lifetime, an organization they have teamed up with for the last eight years, combined to give the Grubes, especially Wyatt, something special to help them get through the first holiday season without Devon. They were the guests of the team at practice on Saturday, and attended the game on Sunday.

“The past year has been really hard for us,” said Margie Grube. “Last November Devon took Wyatt on a last-minute trip to a Steelers game. He had just gotten back home and said he wanted to do that. He sent me a picture from the game, and they were sitting there so close and at the time I was thinking wow, how much were those tickets. Now I am thinking thank God he did that.

“Devon loved the Steelers. It’s was great now to see the joy in Wyatt and him doing something that he loved to do with Devon. It’s hard that we are given this experience because Devon died, nobody wants to be in that situation. But I feel very blessed that given our situation we have so many people in our corner that want to take care of us and surround us with love.”

Operation Once in a Lifetime helps to grant wishes for veterans and active duty military members to help them with major needs or to help lift the spirits of those who served and their families. In the case of the Grubes though, it was fellow Navy SEALs who requested something special be done for them.

“We get a lot of requests, where this becomes more emotional and more meaningful is the family didn’t ask for this,” said Sgt. Patrick Sowers, Founder of Operation Once in a Lifetime. “They didn’t say, ‘Hey can you do this.’ It was the guys in their community, the Navy SEALs that served with Devon who came to us and asked if there anything you can do. For us, it was go big or go home. We said let’s try and do this. It’s going to be emotional, but it means more the family didn’t ask, the guys who served asked because of the type of service member he was and they wanted to do something great for the family. A lot of people ask for things, but this family didn’t ask for anything.

“This was a great way for Wyatt to have another memory, honoring his dad, and hold on to that other memory.”

The only thing Margie Grube asked for, was to see Wyatt smile. And that happened so often that the little boy said he teeth hurt.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Margie Grube. “I think about how much Devon would have loved to do this with Wyatt. It’s hard too. Everything I see going on, all the things Wyatt is enjoying, I think that Devon would be blown away by it. But it’s so special. I am so thankful to everyone.”