WAUKESHA, Wis. — Tyler Pudleiner is at home recovering from the effects of the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy. Since then, the Waukesha South band member had the thrill of a lifetime and a lift from the pride of Pewaukee's J.J. Watt.
Pudleiner recalled some of the tragedy at the Waukesha Christmas parade. But while recovering, he got the surprise of a lifetime from J.J. Watt.
"For something bad to happen like that. We as a community, in general in Waukesha, we've all come together," Pudleiner says. "Waking up in the hospital on Thanksgiving morning and I pretty much gave my mother a heart attack in the room, you know waking up and being in shock. Opening up a video message from the legend himself, J.J." Pudleiner says.
"Tyler, what's going on. This is J.J. Watt," Watt said in the video.
"With how popular and arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. When he reaches out to you? That's pretty amazing and special," Pudleiner said.
"I understand you're a fan of mine. I don't know if that makes you a Cardinals fan or not. But I'm going to make sure that you get some Cardinals gear to try and lift your spirits," Watt said in the video. "And again, I just, I hope that you're well. I'm so sorry what happened. And I'm wishing you absolutely all the best and sending you all my strength. Have a great day my friend."
"It's been overwhelming," Pudleiner's mom Katti says. "When he yelled at me on Thanksgiving morning that he got a message from J.J., I'm like what? What are you talking about? And then he showed it to me. It's just unbelievable the support that has come from the local community, and even Arizona now."
"Todd Behling, the announcer of Slinger Speedway. He's already reached out and wants to do a big interview on the front stretch opening day and you know, all this and that," Pudleiner says.
Pudleiner isn't ruling out a Packers and Cardinals game in the playoffs.
"With how the standings are right now? The seeding? I'm on the fence," Pudleiner says with a laugh.
Beyond that? He also got a video chat from Richard and Kyle Petty, plus Matt Kenseth, and his local racing family, Todd and Elizabeth Thelen.
"It's been overwhelming," Pudleiner says. "I'm grateful for it., but it's very overwhelming. The people at Slinger Speedway are great."
It's a long road. He just had his staples out Thursday, but he is a positive kid with a thumbs up and a smile.
Pudleiner is resting but his next goal is to attend the Waukesha South band concert and see his friends next week.