To say that Kanen is a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles is a big understatement.
He is such a devoted fan that he even went to the Super Bowl to see the Eagles win their first championship title earlier this year - and he has the tickets and some confetti to prove it. But he had never had a chance to meet his football heroes in person.
That is until this past weekend when he went to training camp as a VIP guest with Casey Cares. Getting a chance to see his idols up close was an absolute thrill for Kanen, who has been battling Ewings Sarcoma, and his family. Kanen is just 10 years old and had been in remission for about four-and-a-half years until his cancer relapsed in November.
But for a few hours, Kanen was not thinking about going to the doctor's office or his next hospital stay. Instead, he was wearing his Eagles jersey, hanging out his family - a sister, two brothers and his cousin - at training camp. The Eagles had a special tent set up for 25 Casey Cares program participants, complete with drinks snacks and Chickie and Pete's French Fries. About an hour before the autograph session was set to begin, Kanen already had his chair set up and was in position to meet the players.
Kanen was not the only happy camper. Arnav and his 16-year-old twin brother, Dhruv, of Orefield, Pennsylvania, were very excited to be able to get autographs and photos with their favorite players. Arnav has been undergoing radiation treatment every day for the previous two weeks, so to be able to be around the Eagles for the day was a welcome respite to what has become routine.
One of the most touching moments of the day involved our Casey Cares kid, Kendall, who is 7 1/2 years old. She has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder and doctors told her mom she might not live past 5 years of age. But Kendall was able to come to camp with her mom and grandfather, affectionately known as Pop-Pop. They waited patiently in the tent behind a chained link when none other than Super Bowl MVP quarterback Nick Foles came down the line signing autographs. They asked for a photo but soon realized they would have to turn Kendall's wheelchair/stroller around to get Nick in the photo. Ever the hero, Nick remedied the situation, walking under the chain and an Eagles security guard snapped photos.
"I was so surprised that I forgot to ask Nick to sign my hat!" Pop-Pop said. "What an amazing memory."
The moment brought tears of joy to Kendall's mom - and many other people who witnessed the moment.
We cannot thank the Eagles, especially Tori, for coordinating all of the fine details to make this day happen. From providing extra pennants and Sharpie pens to attending to our families' every need, she was amazing! She even arranged for wide receiver Nelson Agholor to stop and meet with Kanen. Nelson and Kanen had FaceTimed the day before the Super Bowl but had not met in person until this weekend.
"You need to call me before every game," Nelson told Kanen.
Everyone left training camp with smiles on their faces, especially Kanen, who told his mom afterward that this was the "second best day of his life."
We're not offended to be second best in this case - after all, his best day came at the Super Bowl.
For more about this amazing day, click here to see this report from 6ABC Action News! Thank you Tori, Brett Strohsacker, Julie Hirshey and the rest of the E-A-G-L-E-S staff for creating lasting memories for our Casey Cares families! #FlyEaglesFly