Man Who Won Tickets to the Super Bowl Gives Them to Friend with Stage 4 Cancer for a 'Bit of Joy'

"I thought this is definitely the greater use of [the trip]," Sean Farrell tells PEOPLE of gifting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to his friend Rob

Baltimore Man Wins Tickets to Super Bowl 2023, Gifts Them to His Friend with Stage 4 Cancer
Photo: Courtesy Sean Ferrell and Robert Oakley

When Rob Oakley of Louisville, Kentucky shared a Facebook status reflecting on the 100 days since he was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer, he had no idea his powerful post would take him all the way to Super Bowl 2023.

On Jan. 27, Oakley, 37, wrote, "In the last 100 days, I've cried, laughed, and had every emotion between. However, in the last 100 days, the feeling I feel most often is blessed. I am lucky enough to be part of a community that has helped us stand strong as we fight cancer."

The post, which garnered 524 likes and 162 comments, especially touched Oakley's friend, Sean Farrell. "He had posted this incredibly heartfelt message 100 days out from treatment, just talking about how grateful he was and how his community has really rallied around him," explains Ferrell, 44.

"It was really reflective of who Rob is as a person," his friend tells PEOPLE.

So when Farrell found himself the lucky winner of Caesars Sportsbook's prize for a trip for two to Super Bowl 2023, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with the opportunity. "I thought about Rob, and I thought this is definitely the greater use of [the trip], so I reached out to Caesars to see if the tickets were transferrable," he told Oakley.

Baltimore Man Wins Tickets to Super Bowl 2023, Gifts Them to His Friend with Stage 4 Cancer
Sean Farrell and wife Beth. Courtesy Sean Ferrell and Robert Oakley

"My main concern was actually that I just didn't know where he was in his treatment schedule." Ferrell wondered, "If I offer something like this and he wouldn't be able to do it, is that even more of a downer?"

Farrell first reached out to his friend about the trip via text, in a message that Oakley says "completely overwhelmed" him.

"I was blown away by Sean's generosity and thoughtfulness. He wrote me a really compassionate and very sweet message about what our journey has been like growing up and watching our kids grow older," he tells PEOPLE.

An excerpt from Farrell's text message to Oakley said, "As a father of a young family myself, I can only imagine what the last 100+ days have been like for you, Amanda and your family. The grace and transcendent gratitude of your Jan. 27 post was stunning and inspiring."

Farrell's message continued: "Too often, I must admit that I find myself with a sense of deep empathy and wanting to be able to do more but also powerlessness, feeling like I don't have much to contribute. However, now, I would like to offer something tangible that I hope might be able to bring you and your family a bit of joy as you prepare for the further challenges ahead."

Baltimore Man Wins Tickets to Super Bowl 2023, Gifts Them to His Friend with Stage 4 Cancer
Rob Oakley and family. Courtesy Sean Ferrell and Robert Oakley

Farrell says "the stars aligned," to make this trip work for Oakley, who adds that the big game is happening during one of his "better weeks" in terms of his treatment schedule.

A "good week" for Oakley means he's not dealing with as much nausea or gastrointestinal symptoms, and needs a lot less rest. "Whether it's a good week or a bad week, I just don't have a lot of stamina for long days. On a good week, I'm taking one or two naps a day, as opposed to four or five," he explains. "But throughout all of this, we are not alone in this journey. The amount of support we have, I feel that I can rest when I need to because we are so supported."

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Oakley and his wife Amanda share three young children: Shelton, 8, Magnolia, 5, and Sawyer, 3.

The friends met through their wives, who worked together as physical therapists in Baltimore. "We bonded over dodgeball," says Oakley, who says he and Ferrell grew close because of their mutual love of sports and hours playing together on local recreational teams.

Farrell says they even competed on a championship dodgeball team at one point.

Baltimore Man Wins Tickets to Super Bowl 2023, Gifts Them to His Friend with Stage 4 Cancer
Sean Ferrell and Rob Oakley pose with Baltimore dodgeball team. Courtesy Sean Ferrell and Robert Oakley

Years after they met, Oakley and his wife moved away from Baltimore for "family reasons," but the friends have been able to keep in touch via social media. "Sean and I have been able to remain friends and keep up with each other's lives as our families grow," says Oakley.

Farrell says "it hits you really hard" knowing that Oakley "is going through treatment with a young family," so he hopes the trip to Super Bowl 2023 will give the couple an opportunity to enjoy themselves.

In fact, Farrell's generosity will also give Oakley and his wife the chance to visit family they haven't seen since Oakley's diagnosis. "This whole experience is just so serendipitous because we have family in Phoenix that we'll get to spend some time with and then some friends with some little ones that we haven't seen in a couple of years."

Oakley says, "It's really going to be this love-filled trip where it's friends, it's family, and then some time for us too. So the way it's all come together, I couldn't have planned a better trip."

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