Fan gets personal camp invite from Ben Roethlisberger, proceeds to lose mind

PITTSBURGH -- Cindy Koehler said she rarely posts videos online, but she figured her son's response was too good not to share Sunday night.

Asked which person he'd most like to meet, 9-year-old Caleb said he'd "probably hyperventilate and pass out" if he met Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, then urged mom to hit send because "no risk, no reward," a phrase she'd never heard him say.

"I was kind of joking about getting the video [to Roethlisberger] but he said, 'Mom, can you really get this to him online?'" Koehler said. "I said I would try."

What happened over the next day showcased the power of social media and has the Koehler family riding high in Elkhart, Indiana; making plans to see Roethlisberger in person after the quarterback's personal invitation to his football camp on June 17.

As of Sunday night, Koehler said she didn't think her homemade video would get more than a few retweets. But suddenly the shares were piling up and Roethlisberger's social media coordinator was messaging her to secure Caleb's name. She thinks tagging the Steelers on the post helped matters.

Caleb was excited enough just to know Roethlisberger even saw his video. Caleb's father, Craig, is a football coach at Concord (Indiana) High School and wore Steelers pajamas as a child, Koehler said. He passed on the fandom to Caleb, who often pretends to be Roethlisberger throwing for first downs in the backyard.

The family knew a personalized video from Roethlisberger might just make Caleb hyperventilate, as he promised.

"On Monday night I turned to Craig and said, 'I think I just got a video from Ben Roethlisberger,'" Koehler said. "We watched it first, then we showed it to Caleb."

Caleb's fall-to-the-floor reaction makes the five-hour trip to the Pittsburgh-based camp a "no-brainer," Koehler said. Roethlisberger's invitation includes a potential pass-and-catch session between the two. Caleb also recorded a personalized video thanking the quarterback, who noted in his video he liked Caleb's no-risk-no-reward approach.

"It's so genuine to see him send that," Cindy Koehler said. "When he said Caleb's name, I said the power of social media is so amazing. Having that kind of positive impact on kids is great. He will be catching a pass from one of his idols. He's so thrilled."