In the world of the National Football League, we always hear stories of greatness on the field. Whether it’s a tackle-breaking run en route to the end zone, a spectacular throw between defenders or an amazing last-minute drive to win the game, the NFL and its players bring fans to their feet and inspire earth-shaking cheers and thunderous applause.
In the case of 5-year old Jack Bshara, it was the Dallas Cowboys and superstar running back DeMarco Murray who did the cheering.
Jack is the son of Jennifer and Jordan Bshara, who I’ve been friends with since our high school days back in Connecticut. Like me, the Bsharas are huge fans of the Cowboys.
Jack, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease a year and a half ago, was admitted to the hospital about three weeks ago with a 107.9 degree fever. He would develop what is called Leaky Capillary Syndrome, which caused his lungs to fill with fluid.
With his immune system weakened, his Crohn’s Disease intensified.
That left Jack on a ventilator in Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, fighting for his life. At one point his father Jordan told me, “we almost lost him.” When news of Jack’s condition spread through the family’s home town of Beacon Falls, Conn., the community rallied around them and raised money for his medical expenses. Many residents began leaving their porch lights on as a personal vigil for Jack, waiting for the day when he finally came home.
In an effort to help support Jack and the family, I decided to contact the Cowboys. I was put in touch with Scott Agulnek, who ironically, also has a family member who deals with the effects of Crohn’s disease. Scott and the Cowboys were fantastic, sending Jack an assortment of team gear, bears, figurines and an actual game football. The box of goodies put a giant smile on Jack’s face.
But the cheers for the 5-year old didn’t stop there.
During the course of this offseason, I’ve become friends with Murray via Twitter. On Thursday, I reached out to him and told him about Jack’s situation. DeMarco almost immediately called and left a message for Jack.
“I got your message on Twitter about my man Jack, I hope he’s doing well,” he said. “I hope he hears this voice message, and please tell him he’s in my prayers and God has a plan for all of us. Tell him to stay strong and send him my well wishes.”
I played the message for Jack and his parents. While I couldn’t see it being 3,000 miles away, I could hear the joy and excitement in their voices.
Jack is out of the hospital now and back home with his mom, dad and two brothers, Kyle and Nick. However, he isn’t out of the woods just yet. Jack continues to deal with Crohn’s and will soon start taking Remicade, a medication that is administered intravenously for two to three hours every eight weeks. Due to the fact that the cause of Jack’s illness remains enigmatic, Yale-New Haven Hospital also chose him to be part of a genetic sequencing project to determine if his illness was some sort of genetic mutation.
This brave little boy might not throw a football 70 yards on the fly, run a 4.2 forty or score touchdowns on Sundays during the fall–who knows, maybe someday he will–but one thing is for sure: in the football field of life and with the support of his family, friends and the Cowboys, Jack is definitely an MVP.