Huntley freshman Lucas Gidelski receives boost in cancer battle from Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
Normally, leaving a game in which his beloved Detroit Lions scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Bears would have been a tremendous disappointment to 14-year-old Lucas Gidelski.
But last Sunday was anything but normal.
Gidelski, a freshman at Huntley High School, already experienced the thrill of a lifetime a few hours earlier at Soldier Field. So leaving after the third quarter and missing the end of the Lions' 31-30 comeback victory was no big deal.
Gidelski, who was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma a few weeks ago, met his favorite player, Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, along with several other Lions, on the field before the game.
Videos of Gidelski's meeting with St. Brown have turned Gidelski into a social media sensation.
"It was the coolest thing ever," Gidelski said. "I felt like so cared-for and so appreciated by him. It was overwhelming."
That is obvious as St. Brown is speaking to Gidelski, who was sitting in a wheelchair on the field. Gidelski reaches up to wipe tears off of his cheeks.
"It was a life-changing experience for me," Gidelski said.
And just the kind of boost he needed with the battle he is facing.
David and Kandice Gidelski grew up in Michigan and moved to Wisconsin in 2010, then to Huntley in 2014. They grew up as Lions fans and try to make it every year when Detroit visits the Bears at Soldier Field.
The trip was in question last month when they received Lucas' diagnosis. Lucas had a lump on his chest and experienced breathing difficulties. Doctors at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital discovered why and immediately sent Lucas to Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago for treatment.
David Gidelski said his son receives one treatment a week at Lurie's and takes chemo pills each morning and night. Lucas' condition also has leukemia and he has traces in his bone marrow, but David Gidelski said doctors are confident that Lucas can be cured through the treatments.
Lucas was playing quarterback on Huntley's freshman B team last month, but now is weakened and fatigued by treatments. Still, that was not going to stop him from seeing Sunday's game. Lucas was like, 'We got to go, Dad,'" David Gidelski said. "I was like, 'It's cold, your condition's not where it needs to be.' Parking is not ideal at Bears' games."
Kandice stayed back with Brycen, their 11-year-old son whose TCYFL team was playing in its Super Bowl game. The Gidelskis invited Nathan Holbert, Lucas' best friend, and his father Dale to go with them.
When David Gidelski was informing family members about Lucas' condition, his nephew Ryan Newcom responded. Newcom played football at NCAA Division II Wayne State in Detroit, where he was a teammate for two years with Lions receiver Anthony Pittman.
Newcom told Pittman about the Gidelskis and Pittman arranged for four field passes for pregame. Getting to those passes at Will Call became an adventure of its own.
After Dale Holbert parked the car, they walked toward the stadium, but Lucas collapsed. David Gidelski was able to find Bears'personnel, who gave Lucas a ride on a golf cart. Then, another Bears' employee, Trey Manchester, met them with a wheelchair Lucas could use for the afternoon.
"(Manchester) was amazing," David Gidelski said. "He took us all over the place."
On the field, Lucas met defensive end Aiden Hutchinson and running backs DeAndre Swift and Jamal Williams, and he saw Pittman. He even met Michael Key, from the comedy duo of Key and Peele.
"It was really over the top, especially with the spirits he's in at this given point," David Gidelski said.
Lucas sat in the wheelchair wearing his gray No. 14 St. Brown jersey. David Gidelski was able to wave St. Brown over and told him about his son.
St. Brown was looking around the field after the game for the Gidelskis to give them his jersey and sign it. He took to Twitter: "Can anyone get me in contact w Lucas!? he was at the game today & we shared a heartfelt conversation pregame together. I've love to get him a signed game jersey. #HelpMeFindLucas."David Gidelski's cellphone has been buzzing ever since.
"It was absolutely crazy to see one tweet and what that did," he said. "Then, the NFL picked it up. My goodness! The TikTok video has 1.5 million views or something like that."
St. Brown, a second-year player from USC, caught 90 passes for 912 yards last season and leads the Lions with 49 receptions for 518 yards this season. His brother Equanimeous St. Brown is a receiver with the Bears.
"I feel like on the Lions, ever since last year, he's been a good receiver for our team," Lucas Gidelski said. "Everything he does on the field, I really appreciate. He's my favorite player."