The Nelkins, who own a sports memorabilia shop in southwest Houston, have been struggling with infertility for more than a year. Now they're selling a prized possession, but what they didn't expect was that a pro football Hall of Famer would reach out to help.
From a wedding at the Toyota Center in March of last year to not one, but two failed in vitro fertilization attempts building a family has been a real roller coaster ride for Todd and Ula Nelkin.
"The first one resulted in an ectopic pregnancy," said Ula. "Nothing. There was no result."
"I've had a pretty fantastic life and I want to pay that forward to be a father like my dad," Todd said.
Ula is 42.
"It took a while for Todd and I to find each other," she said.
And the Nelkins were out of money, but wanted one more try at having a biological child before trying adoption.
So Todd is putting this football card up for auction to pay for that last cycle of IVF. A one-of-a-kind, double-autographed Walter Payton and Barry Sanders football card.
"We're hoping to get $20,000," said Todd.
And then NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders reached out to help the Nelkins on Twitter and Facebook. And then on the phone.
"I was completely surprised," said Todd.
In an email statement to Eyewitness News, Sanders said, "I want the Nelkins to know that I am supportive in helping spread the word about their cause and since this one of a kind item cannot be replaced, I wanted to send them another signed card to have in its place."
It's a gesture that gives the Nelkins hope that this time there will be a baby.
"I have no problem naming a son Barry," Todd told us.
The auction itself gets going the last week of October on eBay. If they raise the needed money, the Nelkins realize there's still no guarantee that the in vitro fertilization will work