PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. – A long journey for one Pelican Rapids High School student reached a milestone Friday night.
And former NFL star Randy Moss was there to see it.
Moss surprised many in Pelican Rapids by appearing at the graduation ceremony.
Moss’ reason for being there was to hand a high school diploma to senior Kassi Spier, said Pelican Rapids Public School District Superintendent Deb Wanek.
Spier developed a friendship with Moss during his playing days with the Minnesota Vikings.
Wanek said Spier battled leukemia in her youth. Then, in 2004, Spier’s father died in a car accident. And in 2013, Spier was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Yet through it all, she managed to graduate, and Moss wasn’t going to miss seeing it.
“She’s had many struggles in her life, and he’s been there for her,” Wanek said. “He told her he’d be at her high school graduation.”
An Associated Press story in 2003 mentioned that Spier befriended Moss during his rookie season of 1998, when Moss took the NFL by storm with 1,313 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches.
The story describes how Spier in 2003 followed Moss to lunch nearly every day during the team’s training camp that summer in Mankato, with “her tiny hand tucked inside his.”
The St. Paul Pioneer Press also published a story around that time regarding the friendship between Moss and Spier.
It describes how Moss in September 2000 visited Spier, then a 4-year-old, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester after her leukemia diagnosis.
Spier told the Pioneer Press that Moss had a hard time saying goodbye during that visit.
“He cried because he didn’t want to leave,” she said at the time.
Wanek didn’t know that Moss would be at the graduation ceremony until shortly before it started.
“We had heard there was a possibility,” she said. “But we didn’t know.”
Pelican Rapids has about 2,500 residents and is located 45 miles southeast of Fargo.