It’s incredibly easy in sports to get so caught up in the game. The wins, losses, and everything in between can feel like the most important thing in the moment. It can be so humbling though when you take a step back and realize that the number on the jersey, the athlete wearing it, or the team as a whole can mean so much to a fan. It’s often a symbol of hope, perseverance, strength, and so much more.

For one young fan from Delaware, the Philadelphia Eagles and specifically Carson Wentz were his daily source of inspiration throughout his whole battle with cancer.

From a young age, it was clear that Lukas Kusters was destined for NFL greatness. His playing on the field quickly earned him the nickname, “The Dutch Destroyer.” But, his dream of one day playing for the Eagles came to a screeching halt in April 2016. At only 8 years old, he had been diagnosed with cancer. From that day forward, his life was never the same.

After a year of chemotherapy, Lukas returned home in March 2017. His family threw a huge party and prayed that he was cancer free, but not even a month later they received another call from the doctor. Lukas’ cancer had returned, and the doctors felt he might not have the strength to survive another bout.

However, no matter what Lukas was faced with, there was always hope. “We spent a lot of time talking about [Wentz] while we were in the hospital,” Lukas’ mother said. “And the idea of ‘the hope of Carson’ and what it meant for the Eagles was just another piece of inspiration for Lukas in his continued drive to get back on the field himself.”

Shortly after he returned to the hospital, Lukas received the message of a lifetime from his idol, Carson Wentz, telling him the team’s thoughts and Wentz’s prayers were all with Lukas and his family. When the Make-a-Wish Foundation contacted Lukas regarding his wish, all the young fan said was simply, “I want to thank Carson.” His wish was soon granted and he spent the whole day with Wentz and the rest of the team at the Eagles’ facility.

As he was leaving, Lukas gave him one of his Dutch Destroyer bracelets as a symbol of his gratitude and friendship. Just a few weeks later, Lukas lost his battle with cancer, and was buried in his most prized possession, his Wentz jersey.

Today, you can find Wentz on the field, proudly wearing the bracelet Lukas gave him. To Wentz, “It’s so much deeper than football. It’s so much more than just a game.”

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