SALT LAKE CITY - Two battle-tested high school teams went head-to-head for the State 5A Football title Friday night, but the toughest person in the stadium may have been a 5-year-old girl sitting in the stands.
“Kids are as tough as nails,” said Jessica Hadfield.
Her daughter, 5 year-old Andelyn, has Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. In the past year, she’s had two stem-cell transplants, chemo, a tumor removed, and more.
“She gets worn out and cold,” her mother added of the symptoms.
Yet, as the temperatures dropped Friday night, Andelyn slipped on her gloves and hat to brave the cold to watch the football game.
“Well, dad is coaching, so, that’s part of it,” Hadfield said. Her husband, Andelyn’s father, is a tight-ends coach at the school. “And then there’s just a group of them that have won her heart,”
The group she refers to are some of the tight ends and wide receivers who play on the team, who have showed up to Andelyn’s birthdays and become a system of support for her over the past year.
Friday night, many of them had the letters “A.J.” written on their arms. A.J. is Andelyn’s nickname.
“For moments your world stops, crumbles down around you,” Hadfield said. “But every turn, we’ve had people like these kids, strangers even, that lift them up and carry us through.”
A state title can boost some moral too. Lehi High School knocked off inner-city rival Skyridge Friday night for the crown.