Editor's Note: This Sunday, around 30 of the most die-hard Patriots fans will travel from around the country and the world to meet for the first time at Gillette Stadium.
They are all members of the Patriots.com Fan Zone where they keep the website's chat room humming. The following article was submitted by this Sunday's key organizer...
Hello, my name is Deserted from Oro Valley, Ariz., and I am a Pats Chatter regular. My real name is Sandi Siegel, mother of three and yoga teacher, but my friends on the board call me Dessie. Never had a nickname before, I kind of like it. Thanks mates!
Almost every morning I brew a strong pot of coffee while the rest of my household still sleeps, and log onto Patriots.com to see the news of the day in Patriots Nation. Several years ago I discovered this wonderful chat room on the site where Patriots fans from all over the world come to discuss our passion for our team and read up on the latest news. We come from all walks of life, and while many have migrated from our hometowns in New England, we remain loyal to the Foxboro family.
For many of us this chat room has become so much more than just a place to talk. One of our regulars was seriously injured when hit by a car while he was getting his newspaper and the entire community rallied around to help him with moral and financial support and got him through a touch and go situation.
Romance and lasting friendships have flourished from our meetings in cyberspace and spread out into the real world.
"I joined the Chat Room back in August of 2002. I love the family feeling that goes along with the room; not only do we discuss football but a lot of us know personal things about each other and we trust each other. I've discovered after checking out different Chat Rooms that the Patriots fans are the most civil and nicest people I've met. They don't "slam" or disgrace anyone -- it's a good feeling to know that you're entering a room that people enjoy 'seeing' you," says Lorio of Whitman, Mass.
My first encounter with a Pats Chat user named Raging Bull started way back in 1996 when the Patriots visited Arizona. What a weekend! People from all over the country came and made Arizona a temporary home for our boys. Last year about 10 of us from the chat room met at the San Diego game. While sitting in enemy territory, once again to see the Pats, the idea came to me -- we all need to meet in Foxboro and feel the support of ALL the fans in the stadium. I'm so tired of being in enemy territory -- please take me home!
So the idea for this Patriots Chat Gathering was born. I contacted the Patriots with the idea and was happily surprised by their rapid and supportive response. They arranged for 30 tickets for the chat room regulars and the party planning began. This Oct. 11, we will finally get to meet in person at a pre-game party and make these cyber connections real.
"We feel like family already but this will be sweet icing on the cake," said Greenhorn of Arlesy Bedfordshire, England. "Without the room it would be like I was alone in the wilderness. It's also the place where, for the most part, I meet like-minded people and learn a lot about the Patriots and the NFL from some very knowledgeable people. Most of all, the room is the Patriots family of which I feel a part. The gathering -- well it comes back to that family thing -- split up at birth, never met, but know of each other's existence, now finally going to meet. Lots of emotion, excitement, curiosity, apprehension, you name it, it will all be there."
Cali and GregB bring their partying cries from northern California, Squid his Vegas verve and I hope I bring some delicious but cool Arizona sunshine. Several locals will be in attendance including Carolyn from Rhode Island, BestMom in Maine and SamAdams in Nashua, N.H. This Sunday we won't be on our laptops going crazy with every play. Instead, we'll be watching together, screaming and celebrating a victory over the Giants.
Our chat room on the Patriots official website really is like a family. We argue about everything under the sun, agree at times and always, ALWAYS keep the faith in our team. We are there for each other in times of need and tell it like it is when appropriate… as true friends do. And now we come together in the heart of the season to cheer our Patriots team on in style.
This fan base continues to grow and the connection deepens because of this chat room. We can keep in touch with fans from all over the world and gain perspective with the click of a mouse.
This whole planning experience has deepened my passion for this organization. Mr. Kraft is a man of the people who comes into the stands and to the gathering spots of fan clubs throughout the country to show his appreciation for our support. They say that actions speak louder than words and Mr. Kraft is the epitome of putting his money where his mouth is! How the Patriots helped me get this together represents the commitment to community the Kraft family demonstrates every time I turn around.
Thank you all for making this a reality.
Listen up for the loud cries coming from the south end zone this Oct. 12 -- they'll be heard around the world!