March 28, 2017 Cloudy, 42F

Superfans predict win on Sunday

It’s been a tough season for Chicago Bears superfan Rusty DeBuck.

Just when Chicago’s offensive line learned to protect Jay Cutler and the offense began to take off, the McHenry resident and lifelong fan got life-altering news: A blemish on DeBuck’s cheek that resembled an ingrown hair actually was part of a tumor.

As the Bears battled from Miami to Minnesota en route to the NFC Championship, DeBuck took on cancer.

DuBeck had a 3-inch growth removed from one of his main salivary glands this winter, and Friday, he finished his seventh week of almost daily radiation treatments.

Four months ago, when the Northwest Herald featured DeBuck in a story about football fans, the 56-year-old said that the ups and downs of a team such as the Bears could be, at times, unbearable.

“You deal with it by avoiding the Packer fans,” he joked.

As we checked back with DeBuck before the big game, we learned that the superfan had found football to be a lot like life.

As the road to the Super Bowl has led the Bears to a game this Sunday against the great green and gold team from the north, ironically the road to recovery has delivered DeBuck into the hands of Cheeseheads.

The two technicians who strapped DeBuck on the Tomo Therapy machine at the Centegra Sage Cancer Center in McHenry every day for his radiation were both Packers fans.

“It’s a friendly competition,” DeBuck said Friday as be prepared to leave the Sage Center for the last time. “It’s actually fun to give each other hell.”

He growls, but the die-hard Bears fan actually helped Carley Paul, one of his technicians, to score seats on the 35-yard line at Soldier Field this weekend. He gets some satisfaction however, knowing that the Aaron Rodgers fan will be nestled in on the Bears’ side of the field.

DeBuck plans to enjoy the game at home, where he can swear at the TV, he joked.

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Checking in with other area superfans:

Food, football and friends. That is what Lena Duda of Crystal Lake says being a football superfan is all about.

Duda, or Honey Bear, as she is better known in Bears fan circles, is the cheerleader tailgating at nearly all the Bears home games wearing an orange and white vest, go-go boots, and hot pants in homage to Bears’ cheerleaders from the 1980s.

She tailgates with Da Bus Tailgating, a crew that has been tailgating for more than 20 years, and considers herself McHenry County’s biggest Bears fan. To back that up, the last four digits of her phone number spell BEAR (2327).

“I get the typical reaction with the guys,” she said. But Duda said her goal was not to look racy at games, rather to let women know it’s OK to be a football fan.

She will be in the lot near McCormick Place on Sunday to cheer on her team.


Jodi Donovan, 39, of Huntley, grew up in Wisconsin as a Packers fan. Her parents have season tickets, and she has been successful in converting her husband, Michael, to cheer on the green and gold.

“To be a part of our family, he knew he better, or else,” Jodi Donovan said.

This week leading to the game, Jodi’s 6-year-old daughter made a Packers snowman, wearing a Packers scarf, a Packers hat, and Packers pompoms as the arms.

The Donovans, a family of superfans, fly a Packers flag outside their house, even though they are sandwiched between two Bears fans, one of whom has a Bears flag.

“It’s bigger than the Bears flag, and you could see it from the road,” Jodi Donovan said.

On Monday, as the neighbors cleared the snow, one of Jodi Donovan’s neighbors offered to help clear the snow in her driveway, as long as she removed her Packers hat. (She didn’t remove her hat, but the neighbor still cleared her snow).

Looking forward to Sunday, Jodi said: “The competition is going to be excellent. Both teams are really good. It’s going to be a great game to watch. I’m hoping no one runs away with it. It will be a tough game for both teams, although the Packers will prevail.”

• Reporter Joseph Bustos contributed to this report.

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