The Bears launched a interactive digital experience honoring the best fans in sports ahead of Sunday's Fan Appreciation game against the Falcons at Soldier Field.
Starting in Week 1, ChicagoBears.com spoke with fans each week to find out: "What makes you a Chicago Bear?" with the goal of showcasing the team's diverse, loyal and passionate fanbase.
"To be a Chicago Bears fan means so much more than just loving football," said Bears director of digital media Pooja Van Dyke. "It speaks volumes to community, family, and tradition. We wanted to honor our fans and show them what they mean to us and what it means to them to be a Chicago Bear.
"For me, I know when my parents first got settled after immigrating from India, sports were a way to connect with a neighbor or work colleagues. Maybe they didn't speak perfect English, but when they brought up the Bears or Walter Payton, it was a universal language that created immediate camaraderie. That has stuck with me throughout my life and definitely was a source of inspiration for this Thank You Fans tribute."
The Bears' digital team connected with fans at Soldier Field and on the road in cities across the country like Tampa and Los Angeles. At those games, the team also captured Polaroid photos of each fan who responded, which features their own handwriting. Many of those photos are included in the digital experience.
The team also gave fans a chance to answer a Question of the Day each week via push notifications and the Chicago Bears Official App brought to you by Verizon, allowing them to tell their stories from their homes, fan caves and more. Questions included prompts about gameday traditions, how fans' love for the Bears started, who they watched games with, which players they were excited to watch and much more.
In addition to fans, Bears chairman George H. McCaskey and President & CEO Kevin Warren participated in the project, sharing what being a Chicago Bear means to them. Bears alumni Devin Hester, Roberto Garza and Willie Gault also spoke to their love for Chicago and the Bears.
Below are a few examples of fans talking about their passion for the team and what it means for them to be a Chicago Bear.
"To me, being a Chicago Bear means you're representing the City of Broad Shoulders. It means you're strong, honest, hard-working, blue-collared, hard-nosed, and you're giving your all." – Christopher Jermal
"It's really the unity that all true Bears fans have … You're in it. You're in it for life. You're not in it for like, 'Oh, I win one season, I lose one season.' You're always a Bears fan." – Lana Frausto
"I was a Bears fan as a little kid. I would watch them in black and white TV and I've loved them ever since. And my dream was to be a Season Ticket Holder, which we were able to accomplish in 2002." – Carol and Jeff Secord
To view the Bears' full 2023 Thank You Fans digital experience, visit https://thankyoufans.chicagobears.com/