Bart Starr's health has turned corner in 'significant way,' son says

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If all goes well, Bart Starr will be here Thanksgiving night when Brett Favre's No. 4 goes up on the Lambeau Field façade.

That's the plan, according to his son, Bart Jr., who spoke Saturday at the banquet to honor Favre and said his father's health is improving.

Starr, 81, suffered multiple strokes and a heart attack last fall and is undergoing stem cell treatments.

"He wants to walk out onto midfield and give Brett Favre a hug and tell him how much he loves and admires him," Bart Jr. told the crowd here for Favre's induction into the Packers Hall of Fame and retirement of his number Saturday. "He wants to tell the same thing to all of you because you cannot imagine how strengthening it is getting all of your messages and all your well wishes. You have made a difference in his recovery and therefore in my mom's well-being also."

In a video message that played at Lambeau Field, Starr and his wife, Cherry, congratulated Favre on his induction. Bart Jr. said his father has "begun turning the corner in a significant way."

"I have my fingers crossed that he'll be there for that ceremony," Favre said. "And Bart Jr. has promised me he's going to be here. We're getting him in tip-top shape, so I'm looking forward to that."

Bart Jr., appearing Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin, at Favre's flag football game, said his father is scheduled to undergo the second of two stem cell treatments this September in Mexico. He said the treatments are being conducted by the San Diego-based company Stemedica Cell Technologies.

Bart Jr. said his father has made significant improvements since the first treatment.

"Versus two months ago, especially, there's been pretty noticeable progress," Bart Jr. said. "We've got to keep that going."

Bart Jr. said his father never sustained any paralysis, but his speech has been affected. That, too, has improved recently.

He said the outpouring of support from the Packers community has meant the world to his father.

"All of it counts," Bart Jr. said. "Dad places value on obviously his teammates, but also the friends he's met even outside of football. When you get a call from a Jerry Kramer or a note from a Brett Favre or Steve Mariucci or the Packers organization, all that matters a lot. You use that as motivation.

"I'll say, 'Dad, Brett Favre wants you there on Thanksgiving, and so does the Packers organization and so do all these people, but now you have to do five more minutes on the bike.' That's the way athletes respond, right? They want something to be a goal that they can achieve. I'm trying to use that and it's working. We just have to keep working a little more."