Over the last 28 years, WAA Travel Director Sheri Hicks has met and become friends with hundreds of Badger travelers. But there’s a certain group, four mother/daughter duos to be exact — that travel regularly on WAA athletic tours and take the occasional international trip — who captured Sheri’s heart. “When my own mother passed away in 2008, I was proud to be adopted my Mom Kampen, Mom Bock, Mom Cannon, and Mom Carbon,” said Sheri. And now these Badger families and fans share some travel exploits and how WAA brought them together, in their own words.
Kelle Cannon ’83 and Sue Cannon
“We’re long time Badger supporters, and have had men’s basketball season tickets for more than forty years,” said Sue. “Our first trip with WAA was to the 1994 Rose Bowl and it will always be a highlight of our lives. We also attended the 1999, 2000, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Rose Bowls. Besides watching the Badgers play in the Granddaddy of Them All, we’ve traveled with WAA to see the Badgers play in San Diego, Nashville, Tucson, Tampa (twice), Orlando (three times), Chapel Hill, Chicago, Iowa City, Champaign, and Hawaii.”
According to daughter Kelle, “On our Chapel Hill trip, we stayed at this incredible campus property called the Carolina Inn that was also hosting a wedding. After the reception, Sheri found a bunch of red boas the wedding party left behind and passed them out to Badger fans who had gathered at the hotel bar … even some North Carolina fans wore them! We had some great laughs that night. We’ve since heard that the Carolina Inn started a new policy following our stay—no visiting school programs are allowed to stay on premises.”
And when asked why fellow Badgers should travel with WAA, Kelle said, “We wouldn’t travel with anyone else! We feel so much more connected to the UW thanks to the many opportunities we’ve had to meet university dignitaries such as Barry Alvarez, other coaches and many of the players. One of my mom’s favorite photos is with Ron Dayne who traveled to Chicago with us on the Soldier Field trip. Now we consider him a lifelong friend … along with many other amazing people we’ve met throughout the years on WAA tours.”
Mary and Kris Carbon
“My parents traveled a lot with WAA over the years,” recalls daughter Kris. “And my partner Paz and I were fortunate to go with them to watch the Badgers when they played in California, Nashville, Tampa (twice), Hawaii (twice) and, Orlando (twice). A highlight, for me, was celebrating my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary at a special dinner that was attended by many of the friends we met on these trips. Oh, the stories I heard! But there are other stories — like some of those that happened on a Mediterranean cruise with WAA — that even to this day haven’t shared with me.”
“After my father, Ed [Carbon ’50], passed away in 2010, we had to talk my mom into traveling again,” said Kris. “But when the Badgers made it back to the Rose Bowl in 2011, we convinced Mary to once again come along … and we’ve all traveled with WAA to the 2012 and 2013 Rose Bowls, too!”
Ruth Bock and Karen Irwin ’75
“I started traveling with WAA when I went to Kenya in 1997,” said Ruth. “At first, I was leery of traveling alone after my husband (Robert Bock ’49, PhD’52, former Dean of the UW Graduate School) passed away in 1991. But Barney Easterday MS’58, PhD’61 was hosting that particular tour of Kenya … and since I knew him, I felt comfortable going alone. Since then I’ve been on over fourteen international trips (including a return trip to Tanzania with Barney).”
“One of the reasons I travel with WAA so much is because of Sheri. I’ve gotten to know her so well … and then there’s the ‘gang’ who travels together every year,” said Ruth.
“My other daughter Susie traveled with me on the majority of my international trips, but Karen is a bigger Badger fan so she got me to go on twenty-one athletic trips since the 1994 Rose Bowl,” Ruth remarked.
“I did take both daughters to Europe with WAA in 2006 which was wonderful. We had been to many of the same places in Europe when the kids were little, but we traveled on a scientist’s budget … and let’s just say the accommodations were quite interesting. Traveling with WAA, on the other hand, takes the guesswork out of the equation, and we know it will be an incredible — and most of all, fun — experience.”
“I don’t want to forget to mention that I also brought my two grandsons, Reese and Riley on numerous football trips,” boasts Ruth. “Even though Reese is a hip twenty-something he enjoys traveling with and partying with the ‘older’ crowd.”
Sandy and Sharon Kampen
Sandy has taken almost fifty trips with WAA, starting with the 1994 Rose Bowl — an exciting experience for a lifelong football fan who grew up practically next door to Camp Randall. In 2004 Sandy’s mom, Sharon Kampen, started coming along. Her first WAA trip was to the Outback Bowl, and now Sharon has gone on more than twenty trips, including most athletic bus tours. Sandy and Sharon have especially enjoyed going to bowl games and staying in the same hotels as Badger players. They’ve gotten former quarterback Russell Wilson’s autograph and chatted with linebacker Chris Borland. Lots of families use WAA trips as opportunities for spending some quality time together. But for the Kampens, who live together in Madison, traveling is more about the adventure of the open road and of meeting interesting people along the way. “The strong camaraderie of the people we’ve met over the years keeps us coming back,” Sandy says. “That to me is the best part of this. It’s just [about] getting together and enjoying the experience and having fun with all of our friends.”