BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) – For most football fans, attending a Super Bowl would be a dream come true. But this year, for a Brainerd boy, being around to sit in those seats is a victory in itself.
Nearly two years ago, 12-year-old Justin Banks was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. His father Travis said the first signs appeared in June 2009, when Justin’s arm hurt during baseball season.
“I think the hardest thing for him was missing out on the baseball season,” said Banks, fighting back tears. “But football … It’s tough.”
Football is Justin’s favorite sport. Fearing he would never play again, he made a wish.
“First, I thought I might want to go to the Pro Bowl because I love football so much. But then I thought, the Super Bowl, that’s even better,” said Justin.
Justin spent the next year and a half in aggressive chemo treatments, and then one day came a letter from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota. His wish had been granted.
On Saturday, Justin was treated to his own VIP video game party with family and friends at the Mall of America Microsoft Store, where he thought he would receive two tickets to the Super Bowl in Dallas.
But the Make-A-Wish Foundation had another surprise for Justin and his family of eight.
“We are giving you tickets so the entire family gets to go to the Super Bowl,” announced wish granter Kara Keepers.
Wide-eyed and hugging his sister, Justin could only reply with his favorite word: “Awesome!”
Justin will be one of 13 kids receiving Super Bowl wishes this year, with Chevrolet and the NFL providing 30 tickets to their families.
“Holy cow, those are expensive! Even nosebleed seats, $2,000 dollars, at least. That is amazing,” he said. “I’m totally surprised, just so thankful. This is awesome!”
Waiting for his wish just may have made room for a miracle. Justin is in remission. He now comes down to the Twin Cities for monthly chemo treatment, and he is even playing football again.
Justin said that he just has one more wish next Sunday. As a Vikings fan, he can only hope that the Green Bay Packers lose. But no matter who wins, he says the cancer has taught him one thing.
“Wishes can come true,” he declared.
There’s only one word to describe a boy that can now see his future: Awesome.