Central York Panthers football team
A PAINFUL BATTLE
Since age 2, pint-size football fan Tucker Haas has been fighting sarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer. Now 7, he’s had surgery, chemo, a stem cell transplant and radiation that damaged a lung—preventing him from keeping up with other kids. “It’s a heartbreaker,” says his father, Chad.
Enter the players of the York, Pa., football squad. After learning of Tucker’s illness in 2005—his uncle’s an assistant coach—they wore “Tucker’s Team” T-shirts on game days; soon most of the school did too. Selling shirts and collecting donations, the team raised $17,000 for costs related to Tucker’s care. Inspired, the town followed suit, raising more than $100,000. The players also made the sports-loving first grader an honorary Panther, with a locker and uniform; before one game, Tucker scored a “touchdown” in front of a roaring crowd. “We weren’t just playing for ourselves anymore,” says Eric Schwartz, 20, a player in ’05 who helped start things. Adds Tucker’s mom, Lisa: “He gets poked with so many needles; these guys see him as brave and the strong one. It makes the hurt go away.”
Know a hero? Send suggestions to HEROESAMONGUS@PEOPLEMAG.COM