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Earlier this year, Carrie (a volunteer at our hospital) and her husband Joe Staley (an offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers) generously donated their Super Bowl tickets to our Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program (AYA) to make a football fan’s dream come true. Then something even more extraordinary happened: we reached out to you, our supporters, and within 48 hours more than 100 donors stepped up to help fund all the travel and lodging expenses to make this dream a reality.

Child life specialist Jake Lore and AYA program director Pam Simon were given the exciting task of finding a worthy recipient for the tickets. And thanks to your support, we were able to craft the surprise of a lifetime for Anuj, a student, a cancer fighter, and our hospital’s biggest New England Patriots fan.

“We immediately thought of you,” Simon said while presenting the tickets to Anuj. “You’ve been so positive during your diagnosis and your treatment. No matter what happened, you never, ever let that take your goals away. You are such a great role model for all of our patients.”

Anuj was speechless! He decided to bring his older brother and fellow Pats fan with him.

The day after the Super Bowl, Anuj sent us this message to share with you:

After coming home from the Super Bowl less than 24 hours ago, there are a whole bunch of emotions going through my head. I’m not really sure where to start, so I'll start with thank you’s. Thank you to Joe and Carrie Staley for donating tickets to the hospital, and to Pam and Jake for suggesting that the tickets go to me. Thank you to all the wonderful donors who helped make this trip possible for me and gave me an unforgettable experience. I hear that we had over 100 donors and I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It was honestly one of the most incredible experiences of my life. From all of the Patriots and Eagles fans screaming their hearts out for their team, to seeing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick live, it was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Those who know me know I'm a die-hard Pats fan. But this time after we lost, I wasn't as upset as I thought I would be. It had been an amazing game.

While going back to the hotel, I was looking at my Pats hat, which I bought after I got diagnosed and knew I was going bald. That hat has been through everything in the last two and a half years. And most importantly, it was reminder of how far I've come and how close I am to being done. The Pats motto this year was “Not Done.” And I'm taking that motto up as I finish the last 8 months of my treatment. #NotDone

This article also appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Packard Children’s News.

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