ZIONSVILLE, Ind. — For two seasons, the youngest player on the Marian University football team has yet to pass first grade, but his squad is showing the youngster their support.
Jackson Stout was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago when he was just 4-years-old. His parents, Ashley and Levy, saw a pamphlet at the hospital for an organization called Team Impact. The Boston based non-profit pairs sick children with college sports teams.
“It was a huge deal, and we had no idea what we were walking into,” Ashley Stout said.
Jackson has a uniform, a locker, and a helmet. He’s been cheering from the sidelines ever since he got paired with the team. Jackson’s flag football team, the Saints, had a game Thursday night in Zionsville. His 146 collegiate teammates decided to be his cheerleaders, like he does for them.
“He said, ‘Are the players coming?’ I said, ‘Yeah the whole team.’ He said, ‘Everybody?’ I said, ‘The whole team is coming.’ He said, ‘No one is staying home?’ I said, ‘Buddy no one is staying home.’ He said, ‘Even the coaches?’ I said, ‘Even the coaches buddy,'” Levy Stout laughed.
“When Jackson shows up, if you’re having a bad day, you see Jackson with a smile on his face, going through all the treatments he’s going through, it really puts things into perspective for our players,” Marian University Football Head Coach Mark Henninger said.
“He changed the culture around here,” Knights’ running back Charles Salary said. “He got us grateful that we play football.”
Jackson is now in remission, but he still has to take chemotherapy pills and injections for the next year. His parents said the team is really helping his personality to come alive.