Mustari: Murray Kula is deserving of prayers as he battles rare disease
April 16, 2017
Secretary, it's time to draft a letter.
Address it to the man upstairs — the guy with the beard and sandals who, as we're led to believe, calls all shots.
I want to make it clear I just can't come to understand why bad things can happen to good people.
Murray Kula deserves better.
What's a guy supposed to do to earn a better fate?
An aggressive form of dementia has put Kula on an uneven playing field, leaving him with little defense for the first time in his life.
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Doctors have yet to tag a name to whatever it is that's unfairly attacking Kula.
Another medical test might establish more insight to a more definite diagnosis, but you can bet Kula is battling it the only way he knows — with the intent to win.
Nobody's ever had more zest for life, taken on challenges head on or exhibited a love for people with the pizazz Kula does.
His son Brian explained the family is keeping its fingers crossed, but also preparing to understand that the future might not align with what they're used to.
Kula's wide grin with his ballcap tipped back is a welcome sight.
His congeniality has always been second to none.
He's given of himself for the betterment of others for nearly five decades.
At 67, Kula is supposed to be enjoying the twilight days of his career, doting on grandchildren.
Instead, he's left to battle this horrendous brain disease, which has left him with a heavy dose of dementia.
Is that fair? Hardly.
Kula has been the big man on campus his entire life, but only in title. He's never acted the part, utilizing his superb people skills.
He even followed the All-American blueprint, marrying his Greeley West High School sweetheart Cheryl.
An all-state high school athletic career included Kula conquering the hurdles and pole vault, two of the most difficult track events.
Staying with the storybook plan, Kula stayed home and competed in football and track at the University of Northern Colorado instead of chasing rainbows at a more prestigious college.
After all, education was Kula's calling. The guy can teach and coach.
Kula is one of those rare-breed track coaches who lights up like a candle when one of his student-athletes clears the bar in the pole vault, cruises over a hurdle with ease or drains a long birdie putt.
He lives to be a part of the state meet at Jeffco Stadium each spring, a venue where records are set and smiles are aplenty — perfectly suited for Kula.
Kula has never backed down from a challenge. He even pursued building a race car — a Corvette Sting Ray — several years ago with the finish line being in the Bonneville Salt Flats at 230 mph.
I questioned his motive at the time but never his will to achieve something most can only dream of.
You see, Kula has never been one to get his kicks growing tomatoes on the patio or rearranging the shelves in the garage.
He was officiating the Windsor Invitational last month when his energy level was lower than anything Kula had ever experienced.
Kula was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with being dehydrated, but recent memory lapses were beginning to be a concern.
"His symptoms went from bad to worse," Brian said.
From driving himself to physical therapy — from recent knee surgery — and to a high school track meet to laying in a hospital bed has never been on Kula's agenda.
"It's tough, really tough," said Brian, indicating his dad has been moved to a facility in south Denver to be closer to his children and help Cheryl with her constant care of the man she's loved dearly since their teen years.
"He has a hard time communicating, but there's not much talking," Brian said. "To this point, he does recognize our family, though."
The Kulas had moved to a little farm house just off U.S. 257, between Kodak and Water Valley.
Short of a miracle, Kula's current home is anything but the peace and quiet he and Cheryl had found.
How does a man full of energy, positive vibes and a cup overflowing with love for people end up so unfortunate?
Please God, send us some sort of message to better understand.
Realize Kula has had a positive impact on more people in his 67 years than most people do in twice the time.
He's the neighbor we all wish we had.
Damn it, this just isn't fair.
This isn't the way Kula's story is supposed to end.
Doesn't all of the above account for anything?
Murray Kula deserves a heavy dose of prayers and certainly not his current state of mind.
Samuel G. Mustari covers sports for The Tribuhne. He has been the beat writer for UNC for more than 35 years. Reach him at (970) 392-4437 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @TribuneMustari or watch his video "Shootin' It With Samuel G." at greeleytribune.com/sports