SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — All eyes were on the Orange Friday night, but for one fan, getting to see the team play in person was a dream.
A moment shared on the sidelines before kickoff is a special one 5-year-old Leiland White will remember for the rest of his life.
“He’s been through a battle,” said Glenn White, Leiland’s dad.
Leiland has been fighting not one, but two forms of leukemia since 2018.
Inside the Dome, watching the Orange take on Pittsburgh, Leiland forgot about the chemo and hospital stays, at least for a little while.
“He’s been smiling pretty much the entire day,” said Rob Long, Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes.
The former Syracuse punter is no stranger to cancer. Long was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2010. He’s now cancer-free and spends much of his time trying to bring hope to those fighting a disease through the Uplifting Athletes “Uplifting Experience” program.
Long knew bringing Leiland to the Dome would do more than lift his spirits, and for Leiland’s dad, watching him watch the team is a moment he’ll never forget.
“Just being a kid again,” said White.
“As soon as we got him acquainted with everybody, he’s opened up,” said Long.
Leiland is a little camera shy and completely enamored by the Orange. So trading in his football for our NewsChannel 9 microphone was not an option, and neither was taking his bright eyes off the field.
“He’s been so, so happy and joyful,” said Long.
“The smile on his face and everything is just amazing,” said White.
As his cancer treatments continue, likely through March of 2021, this moment is one Leiland and his dad will hold onto.
To learn more about the organization visit Uplifting Athletes.
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