Little six year old Ryan O'Conner of Skokie, Illinois spends most of his days hooked up to a series of tubes and machines. He has spent the past seventeen months living in room 221 at Children's Memorial Hospital, staring out the window, suffering silently in indescribable pain.
Ryan O'Connor is suffering from a rare form of brain cancer.
His only respite comes, ironically, during his most painfully grueling respiratory rehab sessions on Sundays in the fall. That's when Ryan gets to listen to his beloved Chicago Bears on the radio. And this past Sunday, Ryan got the gift of a lifetime.
Before the game, The Make-it-Happen Foundation arranged for a phone call from Ryan's favorite Chicago Bear, QB Rex Grossman. He was so excited, he finally spoke for the first time in over a year.
"Throw an interception for me, Rex, and I promise I'll get better."
Grossman went out and lived up to his end of that promise on Sunday. He not only threw an interception but he also lost a fumble. Grossman seems to be picking up right where he left off in the Super Bowl, where he threw two interceptions and had two fumbles.
But all was not well with Little Ryan. It seemed he couldn't live up to his end of the promise: living.
"During halftime, I received word that little Ryan passed away", said a choked up Rex Grossman after the game. "Up in heaven, I guess he still got to see me play. The fumble and interception? That was for you little man."
Grossman went on to say that he will establish an "Intercept the Cure" fund which will see him donate $10,000 for every interception thrown or fumble lost during the season to the National Children's Cancer Fund. "Anything I can do within my power to help save another Ryan, Melissa, Miguel or Taneesha, I will do. I vow to make 2007 my best season ever for throwing careless interceptions and losing remedial snap exchanges."
Grossman threw 23 interceptions and lost 7 fumbles last year. After fumbling often a basic center snap exchange in the preseason and the results of the first game of the season, it looks like the National Children's Cancer Fund will benefit handsomely from this unselfish athlete.