Norris successfully battled thyroid cancer last year

By Tiare Dunlap
Updated March 01, 2016 10:50 AM

Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris’s thyroid cancer was caught in an early stage and removed last year. Eleven-year-old fan Hunter Bowman wasn’t so lucky.

The Ludington, Michigan, boy’s thyroid cancer spread through his neck, lungs and lymph nodes. Doctors were unable to remove all of it and Bowman’s cancer is now considered to be Stage 4, but stabilized.

Earlier this month, Bowman got to spend time with his hero, Norris – an experience he summed up as “the best day of my life.” The surprise was coordinated by Chevrolet as part of a national social media campaign that encourages people to Day It Forward by using leap day to do something nice for someone else.

The pair initially met up on Feb. 13, when Bowman’s parents told him they wanted to stop by Comerica Park to take a photo while on their way to meet a new specialist. When the young boy got out of his car, Norris was there to meet him – along with a video crew.

“I had no clue what was happening,” Bowman told the Detroit Free Press.

Norris led Bowman on a tour of the stadium and gave him a batting lesson in the batting cages under the stadium. The pair then played MLB 2015 on the stadium’s scoreboard with Bowman playing as his hero. Then, Norris gave Bowman and his family a surprise of a lifetime: an all-expenses-paid trip Florida for spring training, plus tickets to Disney World.

Last week, Chevy flew Bowman’s entire family to Florida, where Norris took time out to play catch with Hunter after practice.

Norris told the paper he was deeply moved by the experience. “It’s tough. The whole time, all day, I felt myself feeling guilty,” he reflected. “I’m so fortunate to be one and done with it. I know he’s still going through with it. I just wanted him to feel special today.”

Norris said he heard Bowman repeat “This is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me,” a few times.

He added that he hopes Bowman was able to take away one thing from their meeting: “Just keep living.”

“I just wanted him to take that to heart,” he continued. “No matter what comes your way, you gotta keep living.”