A Wish, A Hero, And A Happy Kid!

Posted: July 20, 2010 by Adam Day in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


“My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.”

-Rascal Flatts “My Wish”

As I sit down on the couch, snacks in hand, getting ready to get caught up on the latest sports action, I flip the TV channel to ESPN. Top plays of the week are coming on, one of my favorite parts of the show. After I get my daily dose of “Man Medicine” I decide it’s time to hit the hay, been a long day. When I start to turn off the TV something catches my attention, so I decide to stick around through the commercial break and see what this is all about. Now ESPN is supposed to make you happy, excited, and even mad sometimes, it isn’t supposed to make you sad. It isn’t supposed to make a tear run down your cheek. This “Man Medicine” isn’t supposed to make you cry. But when I saw the picture and heard the story of 10 year old Jailen Cooper, I couldn’t help but wipe my eyes. I was so touched by this young mans story that I felt I should share it with everyone else. Here is Jailen’s story.

Jailen is a 10 year old cancer patient from Farmville, NC (just outside of Raleigh). Jailen was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the very young age of 8. A brain tumor at 8. First I couldn’t imagine dealing with this if that happened to me while I was that young. Secondly, as a parent, to even start to think of my son going through something like this just begins to rip apart my insides. I know his happens everyday to children but for some reason this hit home when I watched this. Jailen never felt sorry for himself though, at the young age of eight years old he was more of a man than a lot of people I know. Jailen’s mother was a single mother, so his fatherly influence came in the form of his mothers step-dad Linwood May. Linwood took Jailen under his wing and taught the boy all about sports. He also instilled in him the love he had for his beloved Oakland Raiders, a professional football team in the NFL.

Not only did this young man go through brain surgery, but when he was just six years old, after watching football with his hero, his grandfather, he left to go home. He never knew that would be the last time he saw or spoke to him. After giving each other a fist bump and telling each other their traditional parting words, “Raiders Forever”, Jailen went home. About an hour later Linwood suffered a major heart attack and died. Jailen later said he lost his best friend that day.

In 2008 Jailen traveled with is mother to Chapel Hill to undergo brain surgery. He told ESPN that he was at first scared, but then he knew that God was with him and he would be fine and shouldn’t be scared. I sometimes wish I had the courage and strength as this young man. After the surgery Jailen’s face had swelled up beyond recognition and couldn’t open his eyes, he would ask his mom to please open his eyes just so he could see her, which she couldn’t. Now at the age of 10 Jailen’s prognosis is a good one. He said he is even OK with the scar on his head. He rushed home one day to tell his mom that a girl from school gave him sympathy because of it. He thought it was funny that a girl said “aww” towards him.

Now remember how I mentioned before that Jailen and his grandfather were big fans of the Oakland Raiders. Well, one of Jailen’s dreams was to work out with the Raiders. He wanted to be strong enough to be a part of the team, and of course meet his favorite player, Raider running back Darren McFadden. Thanks to some very special people and a great organization at the Make A Wish Foundation, the dream of this little man came true.

Jailen received a phone call from Raider head coach Tom Cable, who invited him to practice. Jailen was going to get to be part of the team and he couldn’t wait. When he arrived at the Raider camp, he was able to tour the camp and see the Super Bowl trophies. He met all the players and had his fingers taped up before practice. Then the time came where he met his favorite player, Darren McFadden. McFadden took the young man into the locker room and showed him his very own locker. Jailen had locker with his nameplate, J. Cooper above. McFadden had filled up the locker with everything the young star would need. Brand new cleats, his own jersey with his name on the back, pads, and a helmet with the signatures of all the Raiders players. McFadden also bought him some gospel CD’s, a remote controlled spider, and a night light. If the story ended here, it would probably be one of the best days in young Jailen’s life. But the Raiders had more in store for him.

Jailen was told he was going to get to line up against and try to tackle McFadden. Jailen had said before how awesome it would be to get to tackle a pro football player. But first he would need to make sure he was warmed up and ready. Jailen got to go around and stretch with different players, then the team let him sound the horn to let everyone know practice was beginning and stand at the front and lead the team in exercises. Jailen went around and got tips from different players on his approach to tackling his favorite player. The time had come and all the players from the team surrounded Jailen and McFadden in a huge circle. As the team started chanting Jailen! Jailen! Jailen!, the two started towards each other. The big moment was here, and Jailen wrapped up Darren McFadden and took him to the ground. The smile on that little mans face seemed to light up my entire living room. The players then picked him up and put him on their shoulders celebrating his victory. Jailen later said that he knocked his own self out of his shoes (ha). As Jailen helped Coach Cable out at the press conference he told reporters that McFadden would be ok, but maybe just a little bruised (HA).

The Make A Wish Foundation is doing amazing things. Just seeing how happy this young man was after fulfilling his dream was amazing. I truly hope little Jailen gets better and is able to enjoy a full life, he has a lot of people pulling for him, now including his teammates, the Oakland Raiders. I know I’ll be saying a prayer for him.

I’ve posted the video below so everyone can see how happy he was. Be warned, you may want to keep a Kleenex close by, you may get something stuck in your eye.

Don’t forget to tune into ESPN for other Make A Wish Specials going on all this week.

  1. Lovely post thanks. My son was 23 when we discovered he had a brain tumour and he is due to go for an op this year. How daunting to find it so young and have the operation then. A very brave young man!

  2. Joe says:

    Come on man, that’s not cool… you’re not supposed to post things that make me cry.

    Seriously though, that’s amazing. We could all take some advice from that brave little guy… you’re right, he’s more of a man than a lot of grown people.

  3. Aaron says:

    the kids,hmmm,hehe interesting. Life is so wonderful ! come on。。。。。。

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