As quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran out of the pocket to his left and tip-toed down the sideline before spinning 360-degrees at the goal line on a 27-yard touchdown run to put the Kansas City Chiefs on top for good against Tennessee in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium, Chiefs fans across Kansas and Missouri and the country were screaming.

One of them was little Kieran Cole Shadden, who came into this world in a delivery room at a hospital in Joplin, Mo.

Kieran’s father, Justin Shadden, was experiencing the joy of seeing his son for the first time as Mahomes’ touchdown run gave his Chiefs a 21-17 lead against the Titans on their way to a 35-24 victory at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 19.

“When Mahomes scored that touchdown, man it was an amazing feeling,” Shadden said. “I had just watched my boy being born, then happened to look up and see Mahomes celebrating. It was just one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life.”

Justin Shadden, a 2017 graduate of Osawatomie High School, and his fiancée Paige Jensen were expecting their son to arrive on Monday, Jan. 20, but Kieran had other plans.

Bill and Debbie Shadden of Osawatomie, Justin’s parents, were planning on heading to Joplin on Monday when they got the call that the baby was going to be coming a day early.

“We got a call at 4 a.m. Sunday,” Bill said. “We were told we didn’t have to hurry, but the baby was coming that day.”

While they were in the delivery room, Justin had a television brought in to follow the game.

Paige and her mother Mikka Osborn had to remind Justin to stay calm in the room, especially when the Chiefs were down 10-0 and 17-7.

“I told him you have to shut the TV off if you get upset, it could upset Paige,” Bill said. “When it was 10-0, Justin got upset, and Paige reminded him the day was about his family.”

When Mahomes ran for the touchdown as Kieran was born, Justin had a flood of emotions.

“It was honestly so amazing to have my family there with me, especially my mom in the delivery room, getting to witness him come into this world with me,” Justin said. “It was truly amazing.

“Dad didn’t get to come in until there was about four minutes left in the game, but we got to take the whole thing in,” he said. “I have been waiting for this for a long, long, long time. My Dad is the biggest reason I am a huge Chiefs fan. It was a great moment for the both of us.”

It had been 12 years since Bill Shadden had his last grandchild and 50 years since his Kansas City Chiefs with Len Dawson, Buck Buchanan, Otis Taylor, Bobby Bell, Curley Culp, Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas, Jan Stenarud, Jerrell Wilson and Hank Stram defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 to win Super Bowl IV.

“I remember watching the first Super Bowl in 1966 on a black and white television when the Kansas City Chiefs played the Green Bay Packers,” Bill said. “I was 9 when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 1970. That was 50 years ago. I just kept saying, ‘maybe next year.’ By golly this is the year.”

Kicking Cancer To the Curb

Cristina (Miley) Christen-sen knows all about the importance of having a team around you and keeping a positive attitude, regardless of the situation.

Cristina started 2019 in a battle for her life, surrounded by her team of family, close friends, nurses and doctors.

She discovered a lump in her left armpit. After several doctor visits, she was diagnosed with triple positive invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer) on Feb. 13, 2019.

Cristina, a 1998 graduate of Paola High School, where she cheered for the Panthers, was in a fight to kick cancer.

“After six months of chemo therapy, a double mastectomy, removal of affected lymph nodes and radiation, my wonderful team of doctors nominated me for Crucial Catch,” Cristina said.

She was invited to see the Kansas City Chiefs play the Houston Texans on Oct. 13 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs lost that game 31-24, but would see the Texans again and rally from a 24-point deficit for one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history to advance to the AFC Championship game.

Cristina’s husband was not able to go to the game with her due to obligations at work, so she took her neighbor Emilia Marshall with her.

“She was also diagnosed with breast cancer,” Cristina said. “So, I thought it would be fun to share the experience with her.

“Prior to this game I was able to attend a Chiefs practice and meet some of the players, including THE Patrick Mahomes, who is every bit as kind as everyone says,” Cristina said. “I also got to meet Demarcus Robinson, Dan Sorensen, Chidi Okeke, Frank Clark, Jeff Allen, Alex Okafor and coach Spagnuolo. The game was not a victory for us against Houston, but it was very special. We were put up in a suite and got to watch the game in style.”

Cristina grew up in the Chiefs Kingdom with her family.

“The Chiefs have always been our team since I was a little girl, wishing for turnovers with my Dad and braving the frigid games while we were once season ticket holders,” she said. “Nothing stops us from watching our Kansas City Chiefs.”

When she says that, Cristina means it.

Cristina and her husband Derrick were in Vienna as the Chiefs defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 before falling to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game in overtime 37-31.

They were in the middle of the ocean as the Chiefs rallied two weeks in a row to make their trip to the Super Bowl a reality.

“Last year, we watched them in Vienna during the playoffs,” she said. “This year, we were on a cruise ship, cheering them on in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The amount of Chiefs fans from all over the country wearing their Chiefs red with pride was incredible.”

Cristina and Derrick are going to be in Miami for the Super Bowl showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.

Derrick was awarded Super Bowl tickets through his work.

“We are over the moon excited to cheer on our home team in Miami,” she said.

Cristina and Derrick reside in Lenexa. The couple lived in Fort Lauderdale for three years and spent nearly 10 years in Frisco, Texas.

Never Ever Give Up

If there is one thing David French of Osawatomie has learned in his life — it is to believe and always fight for one more breath and one more day.

He saw that in his Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Houston Texans. Kansas City was trailing 24-0.

David got a text message during the game from his son Andy in Dallas.

“Dad, what is going on with the Chiefs?”

“We have them right where we want them,” he replied.

David French was at the game with friend and former Osawatomie coach Darren Soucie. French and Soucie knew if anyone could come back from a deficit like that, the Kansas City Chiefs could.

“We have the Mahomes factor,” French said. “Plus, the Chiefs have scored 28 points in a quarter before. I caught myself doing what I did when I coached high school or middle school, watching the demeanor of the coaches and players on the sidelines.

“I recalled seeing neither coach Andy Reid nor Patrick Mahomes were showing any signs of distress. Though they were losing by a lot, they were teaching young people all over America the great lesson of never giving up. Watching a champion when they are behind says a lot, perhaps even more so than when they are winning. This is when the character is truly tested.”

French became a Kansas City Chiefs fan when he was 8 years old. He followed the Chiefs on the radio.

When he was 10, the family moved to Snyder, Texas, not far from Lubbock, home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who Mahomes played for in college. In the late 60s he could not follow his beloved Chiefs because West Texas only covered the Dallas Cowboys.

His family moved to Iola in the spring of 1969 and he got to follow the Kansas City Chiefs all the way to the Super Bowl.

“For that magical season, my family had a black and white TV we would have to turn the antenna to get the reception,” he said. “One method we used to pick up that broadcast was putting aluminum foil between the rabbit ears.

“When the reception was poor, I listened on the radio to the legendary announcer Bill Grigsby,” French said. “I loved listening to him, as he would bring the broadcast to life.”

French still has a Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl pennant from 1969-70, a scrapbook and painting he did. They are cherished mementos for the life-long fan.

A Chiefs Kingdom Family Tradition

Kelsey, Macy and Kaden Carbajo grew up with the Kansas City Chiefs red and gold flowing in their veins.

The three grew up watching their beloved Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium with their parents, Tom and Janel Carbajo of Spring Hill. Tom and Janel went to a Chiefs game on a date, got married and have been season ticket holders for 31 years now.

They are always in the same place, sitting up front near the Kansas City 20-yard line. The family is also seen often on television with Janel, the now famous “Puppet Lady.”

The way the Kansas City Chiefs got to the Super Bowl is pretty incredible, Tom said. The Kansas city Chiefs came back from a 24-0 deficit to defeat the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Playoffs at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Kansas City Chiefs came from Dallas, where they were called the Texans. Lamar Hunt, former owner of the team, founded the Dallas Texans in 1960 and moved the team to Kansas City in 1963 to become the Chiefs.

Following that incredible comeback to post a 51-31 victory, the Kansas City Chiefs were back at Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans and again, found themselves facing a double-digit deficit, trailing by scores of 10-0 and 17-7.

“With this being the 50th year anniversary of the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl, it just feels like things are falling into place,” Tom said. “It just felt like it is their destiny when the Chiefs were beating the Chargers at the same time Miami was beating New England to give us the No. 2 seed. Then two weeks later Tennessee goes into Baltimore and upsets the Ravens to give us a home game against Tennessee for the AFC Championship. This is their destiny.”

Kansas City is family, Kelsey said. The Cabajos are just part of that family in one big Chiefs Kingdom.

“It’s weird to think that watching a bunch of football players play every Sunday would be so significant, but they help make Kansas City a family,” Kelsey said. “I love this team.

“I love hearing the mic’d up clips of them talking during the game because you can tell that they are the definition of teammates,” she said. “This team is a great example for young athletes and how they should act with their team.”

Arrowhead Stadium is the loudest place in sports for a reason, Macy said. This is a kingdom with some great fans.

“The last two weeks have been unbelievable,” Macy said. “The excitement this team has brought to Kansas City has been nothing but amazing. In the second round of the playoffs against the Texans no one would have ever thought that is how the game would have started. After the third touchdown Houston scored, I was sick to my stomach. My face was emotionless and I was in disbelief. For how talented Mahomes is, we all knew how difficult it would be to come back from being down 24-0. But if anyone could do it, Mahomes would be the guy.

“After the run by Hardman and the first touchdown the crowd was back to life,” she said. “After the third touchdown in three minutes the crowd was going nuts. After we were within reach, I knew Mahomes was going to carry this Kansas City Chiefs team to victory. To see the Chiefs comeback and the crowd come together as a Chiefs Kingdom was an experience I will never forget.”

The Kansas City Chiefs have a bond with their fans that extends beyond the field, Kaden said.

“From the team to the fans there is definitely a relationship that involves more than football,” Kade said. “It’s something that I feel blessed about to be a part of this family. During the past two weeks, I have seen this team rally together as one and play their brand of Chiefs football.

“There was the series of plays that led to the Chiefs comeback against the Texans,” he said. “Patrick Mahomes’ 60-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins. Frank Clark sealing the game against the Titans by sacking Ryan Tannehill, and then Demarcus Robinson performing a backflip at the end of the game. These moments will forever be in my heart and in my mind, as well as the countless other moments we’ve shared as a family at all of these great games. The passion I have runs deep within my veins and I bleed red and gold. Kansas City is and always will be home! I am forever grateful for this city and this team.”

There has been some heartache along the way, Janel said. But there is just that feeling this season that this is the year for the team of destiny.

“We have been there through a lot of tough times, but we have always supported our beloved Chiefs,” Janel said. “The sign of a true fan is to never ever give up on your team. Take it one play at a time and good things will happen.

“The BIG one is left, and this team has worked together all season long to achieve this trip to the Super Bowl, and hopefully they will continue to be victorious. This is huge for coach Reid and Kansas City!”

Some Help From Above

Twenty years ago, Jan. 23, 2000, Kansas City Chiefs Hall-of-Famer Derrick Thomas was in a car accident on his way to KCI to catch a flight to see the St. Louis Rams play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game. He passed away Feb. 8 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Thomas, a Kansas City favorite, known for his tenacious defense, stripping the ball from running backs and sacking quarterbacks, and of course for his warm smile, has to be looking down on his Chiefs with pride, said longtime fan Ann Davis of Osawatomie.

“You know, 20 years ago Derrick Thomas was in that car accident on Jan. 23 and died Feb. 8,” Davis said. “A lot of us old fans say he is watching over this team.”

Davis grew up in Reading, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. She was a good-ole Midwest Kansas City Chiefs fan.

“When the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, I went out into the yard banging on the lid of a trash can yelling, neighbors joined me shooting off fireworks,” Davis said.

One of the things she loves about her AFC Championship Kansas City team in 2020 is the family mentality — one for all and all for one.

“I totally love watching Patrick Mahomes play,” she said. “He reads the field and watches the opposing defense. I have never known a football player with such a natural knowledge of the game.

“During interviews I have noticed that Mahomes never takes credit,” she said. “He always gives the credit to his fellow teammates. This is a team. They love and respect each other, and the game of football.

“I wasn’t concerned with the Chiefs facing 24 points to their zero deficit score against Houston,” Davis said. “But, to watch Mahomes take hold of the team, motivating them to win that game was awesome. I even saw him rally the defense at one time. For several years I have been saying, you have to have a strong defense and the Chiefs haven’t. You need a strong defense to keep the other team from scoring if your offense isn’t. I have my defense.”

A Special Homecoming

Will Garza, a 2014 graduate of Louisburg High School, is not shy about wearing his red and gold for Kansas City and letting everyone know he is a Chiefs fan through and through.

This season is putting that to the test, as Garza goes to work for KPMG accounting just two blocks from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49ers.

KPMG also has offices in Kansas City, Mo., making this Super Bowl meeting between the 49ers and the Chiefs a company rivalry game as well.

“All of my co-workers here are 49ers fans,” Garza said. “I am not hesitant to wear my Chiefs jersey and say I am a fan. It is pretty crazy that these two teams are going to play each other in the Super Bowl. We are a large accounting firm. If the 49ers win, the boss in Kansas City is going to have to wear a 49ers jersey. If the Chiefs win, the boss in San Francisco is going to have to wear a Chiefs jersey.”

Garza, who gets home four times a year or so, was in town for Christmas and New Year’s. He brought in the New Year in Kansas City at the Power and Light District. And who comes walking in just after midnight to share in the celebration but Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“It was pretty cool to be able to come home for Christmas and see my family,” he said. “And I go out and get to see Mahomes, too.”

Garza is taking Monday after the Super Bowl off so he can travel home to watch the game at his parents’ house in Louisburg with family and friends.

“I have been waiting my whole life to see the Chiefs in the Super Bowl,” Garza said. “There is nowhere else I would rather be for this game than home with my family.”

Garza will be enjoying plenty of barbecue as he watches the game with his parents Joe and Jamie Garza of Louisburg. His grandmother, sisters and their husbands, and nieces and nephews will all be on hand for the big game.

Fight for Your Right to Party

Andie and Keith Ewing from Spring Hill were at Arrowhead Stadium to see Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt presented the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy named for his father and founder of the Chiefs.

When tight end Travis Kelce got on the podium and quoted the Beastie Boys saying “you gotta fight, for your right, to party, the crowd went crazy, Andie said.

“It was beyond awesome — surreal,” she said. “The Chiefs fans became a family. Strangers were hugging and high fiving.

“When Kelce said fight for your right to party, the fans exploded, repeating in unison,” she said. “Like I said — it was surreal. What I love most about it is how the community has come together and the pride we all take in being recognized for treating even our competitions fans nicely. I was actually at the Ravens game earlier this year, sitting next to Ravens fans and they complimented Kansas City over and over again for everyone being so kind to them. That’s the stuff that makes us special.”

Happy Birthday To Me

Cole Rayl of Osawatomie was at Arrowhead Stadium with his father Johnny Rayl when the Kansas City Chiefs came back from a 17-7 deficit to defeat the Tennessee Titans and hoist the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy.

“It was truly an amazing moment, once the team had clinched the game with that last sack and started kneeling to end it,” Cole said. “The crowd was louder than it ever was. It was definitely an emotional moment. I saw some grown men crying in excitement. I’ll be honest; I had to hold back tears myself.”

Cole was at the AFC Championship game the year before, when the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots in overtime.

This year, Cole was able to celebrate his birthday at the stadium with an AFC Championship for his Chiefs.

“It was an extra special moment for me and my dad,” he said. “Not only being there for my birthday, but we had gone to the game last year against the Patriots on my birthday, and the way we lost that year hurt a lot.

“For me and him, being able to go to this game on my very next birthday and watch our team redeem themselves, it was such an amazing moment,” Cole said. “I know he has waited a long time for them to be back to the Super Bowl. I am just blessed to get to experience that with my Dad.”

Hail To The Chief

Former Paola Police Chief Dave Smail and his family have been season ticket holders for 21 years.

They used to go to games with an RV and make the day of it - enjoying potluck meals with the family before and after every home game.

They still go to every home game — just like the post office — rain — snow — wind — ice — nothing keeps them from watching their Kansas City Chiefs.

Dave Smail and his boys Jeremy, Jon, Justin and Jesse and their families are all life-long Chiefs fans.

There were really no words to describe being at the AFC Championship game to see the Chiefs bring home the Lamar Hunt Trophy and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl, Justin Smail said.

“It has been quite the ride,” Justin said. “We went from the up years with Vermeil, Priest, Tony and Trent to the down years of Cassel, Croyle and a barrage of coaches. To be honest it was never about the Chiefs, although we showed up each week hoping to get a victory, it was more about time with my family.

“It is just what we do together,” he said. “Then things changed, once big red came in the expectations changed. Then with Mahomes coming on and now the defense, our expectations are to win every week. The last year and a half the Chiefs have been an escape from reality at times.”

The boys rallied around their Dad when he faced some life-threatening health issues last year.

The day before he was to have a major surgery, Dave and his son Justin were watching the Kansas Chiefs game against the Denver Broncos when Mahomes threw a left-handed touchdown pass for the win.

“I will never forget watching the Chiefs game against Denver while in the game in the hospital with him,” Justin said. “I think I will remember that game as long as I live.

“It was what we needed when we needed it,” he said. “Because of that, we now realize that every game we are able to get together and watch is a blessing.”

Facing that kind of adversity as a family only brought the Smails closer together. It also gave them a different perspective on watching the Kansas City Chiefs deal with adversity in the AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Houston Texans and in the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans.

“I know nobody will believe this, but there was not really a panic when the Chiefs got down 24 points against the Texans,” Justin said. “I can remember us guessing what the halftime score would be when we were down 24-0, and the worst from our group was 24-14.

“I will never forget the ride this year, as it has felt really similar to the Royals run to the series,” he said. “When I debated not going to one of the playoffs games this year my Dad said, ‘it is really important for us all to be at these last two games, because this is a memory we will have forever when they win the Super Bowl.’”

Dave, Jeremy, Jon, Justin and Jesse are looking forward to add a Super Bowl parade to cap off the Kansas City Chiefs 2019-20 season.

“The constant theme amongst comments from my brothers and Dad is that of the feeling of magic in the air,” Justin said. “There is the excitement that comes with adversity, and the feeling of a whole community celebrating. Here is to hoping that we get to have a parade of red in the streets and add another memory to the scrapbook.”

Super Bowl - Bound for Miami

Larry Smith, co-founder of L&K Trash Services, will be in Miami on Sunday with his wife Kim and boys Bryce and Cooper Smith to see the Kansas City Chiefs play the San Francisco 49ers in their first Super Bowl in 50 years.

“We knew there was no way we were going to miss this opportunity,” Larry said. “Bryce and I have been season ticket holders for more than 10 years. We always enjoy our time together tailgating and watching the Chiefs. We had some years that we were not as successful, so for us to be part of a home AFC Championship is just incredible.

“To see our guys come from behind is just amazing and it gives us hope that it’s not over until it‘s over. Hopefully, we will get one more in Miami,” he said. “This year has been extra special for us as we have a family member who is a defensive coach for the Chiefs. He came here from the Patriots. I can only imagine what that it will be surreal and an incredible memory made with my family to see the Chiefs at the Super Bowl.”

Keep On Believing

Megan Wood got one of those calls that make you lose your breath in 2019.

Her father Rodney called her at 11:40 p.m. on Jan. 25. He had fallen and couldn’t get up. Rodney could not feel the left side of his body and called for an ambulance.

Rodney had aspiration pneumonia and mini strokes. He was released from Olathe Medical Center on Feb. 13. He spent time in a Kansas rehabilitation hospital before being sent to another rehab facility in Gardner. From there he moved to Life Care Center of Osawatomie.

He had another stroke in December and spent four more days in the hospital before going back to Osawatomie. Rodney saw the last two Kansas City Chiefs games on TV.

After the AFC Champion-ship game, Megan received another call she will never forget.

“The best part of all of this was having my daddy call me,” she said. “The first words out of his mouth were ‘How about them Chiefs’ in the most excited voice I have heard in a long time. I know he was going ecstatic. Love you, dad.”

Kings of Kindergarten

Curtis Long of Paola was in kindergarten during the 1969-70 season and members of the Kansas City Chiefs visited his school.

The team handed out World Champions — 1969 milk mats to the students.

Long not only still has his, but the item is matted, framed and signed by members of the team that won it all 50 years ago, including Len Dawson, Bobby Bell, Curtis McClinton, Otis Taylor, Ed Buddie, Mike Livingston and announcer Bill Grigsby.

“Some of the Chiefs players came to our school when I was in kindergarten and handed out milk mats after they won the Super Bowl,” Long said. “I have been waiting 50 years to get a new milk mat.”

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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