TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- A young football player whose visit to Topeka for the Shrine Bowl nearly three weeks ago ended with stab wounds returned to the city Monday.
18-year-old Brett Sterbach was attacked by two men outside a local gas station.
He was all smiles touring the Topeka Zoo with Mayor Larry Wolgast.
"I'm really glad to be at the zoo - a secure location!" laughs Sterbach.
He can joke about it now, but surveillance video captures the moments July 31st, before a man stabbed the recent Shawnee Mission West graduate outside a Topeka convenience store after he'd played in the Shrine Bowl.
Brett saved pictures of his wounds on his cell phone; images Mayor Wolgast hopes to replace with better memories. The Mayor sent Brett Sterbach a letter in the mail inviting him back to Topeka.
"We wanted to immediately have something very positive for them that they could come back and see Topeka in a different light," says Mayor Wolgast.
"I was actually really honored he actually took the time to mail out the letter and actually reach out to me you know I was actually really touched by it," said Sterbach.
Local media followed Brett and his family as they toured the Zoo as he fed the giraffes and he even hopped in the alligator tank.
"I just feel like an all-star, just kind of a movie star, getting the special treatment, red carpet out here its actually pretty awesome," says Sterbach.
Brett's parents say they are grateful their son survived the incident.
"It ended up good. It could have ended up a lot worse," says Brett's mother, Julie Sterbach, who was inside the gas station at the time of the incident.
"We certainly can replace money, and a cell phone, we can't replace him," says Brett's father, Nick Sterbach, who was also inside gas station at time of incident.
Brett says this visit achieved the Mayor's goal.
"It will actually leave me with a good memory," says Brett Sterbach.
The Mayor also invited Brett to a free dinner and they received tickets to a Washburn University football game.
Topeka police say the suspects who attacked Brett remain at large.