Andrew Cohen is a 6-year-old boy who lives about seven houses up the block. He is a warm, funny kid who happens to be good pals with my son, Emmett.
Two and a half years ago, Andrew developed a limp. As these things often go, everyone assumed it was nothing—until, tragically, it was something. The limp was an indicator of Neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that starts in certain types of nerve cells. (The term neuro refers to nerves, while blastoma refers to a cancer that affects immature or developing cells). Neuroblastoma occurs in infants and young children. It is rarely found in children older than 10 years.
Anyhow, since that time Andrew has been put through the ringer. Multiple treatments (chemotherapy, blood and platelet transfusions, etc), tons of missed school and missed birthday parties and, most terribly, missed health. There have been highs and lows, highs and lows. Through it all, he has remained remarkably resilient.
I digress. A couple of weeks ago Jill Cohen, Andrew’s mother, sent me this e-mail:
Hi there from Sloan. Andrew is hanging in here but we want to go home. I think we are here for the weekend. We’re missing the street. I was wondering if through your connections in sports you had anyway to get in contact with Andrew Luck? I graduated from Stanford and when we went to visit last summer the boys got into Stanford football. We actually call our Andrew our own Andrew Luck. I just read an article that showed that he shaved his head in honor of his coach and my Andrew thought it was very cool ( for obvious reasons). Just thought an autograph or something would brighten our Andrew’s day.
Now, I don’t know Andrew Luck. I’ve never met him, never seen him in person. I also don’t know anyone with the Colts. However, as a blessed member of the sports media and a blessed former Sports Illustrated writer, I do have a connection or two. Immediately after receiving Jill’s e-mail, I reached out to a pair of old SI colleagues—the excellent Peter King and the excellent Jon Wertheim—who I knew had Colt ties. I forwarded them Jill’s words, and explained any help would be hugely appreciated. Both guys responded within hours, saying they’d give it their all.
A few days ago, the autographed football arrived at Andrew Cohen’s door. It was personalized by Andrew Luck.
I tend to whine and complain and rip professional sports. But, truth be told, there’s much goodness to come from the endeavors. The chance to make a kid’s day—hell, his life—is golden.
I’d like to thank Peter and Jon and the Colts and Andrew Luck for remembering that.