Good luck trying not to cry when you read the story of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and his relationship with childhood cancer patient Lukas Kusters.
A dominant youth football player from a football family, Kusters was diagnosed with stomach cancer as an 8-year-old. The Wilmington, Del., native had a grapefruit-sized mass in his abdomen that had to be surgically removed.
While he was sick and in the hospital, a radiation technician got word to the Eagles that he was a diehard Carson Wentz fan and that led to the Eagles’ quarterback delivering a video message to Kusters in the hospital. A few weeks after the surgery, when it was revealed that the cancer was back and Kusters didn’t have long to live, his dying wish was simply to tell Wentz thank you.
Of course, the Eagles put together far more for Kusters and his family, picking them up in a limo and giving them a personal tour of the facility, where he met Wentz and his favorite defensive player, Jordan Hicks. When Kusters was leaving, he presented Wentz with a wristband sporting his nickname, “The Dutch Destroyer,” and rose from his wheelchair to give Wentz and Hicks a hug.
Kusters died on June 12, just 13 days after that visit to the Eagles facility.
However, the connection doesn’t end there. It was Kusters’ wish to be buried in a Wentz jersey, a fact that still chokes Wentz up when asked about it.
And when Wentz took the field for the season opener against the Washington Redskins, he did so wearing his Dutch Destroyer bracelet, to the surprise of the Kusters family. As hard as it’s been to reconcile a football season without their little boy, that’s been a source of inspiration for everybody.
The entire story from ESPN.com’s Tim McManus and the accompanying video from Tom Rinaldi is worth your time, but be sure to stash a box of tissues nearby. And next time you see Wentz out there making a name for himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the game, remember that he carries a little bit of the Dutch Destroyer with him every day.
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