Boy battling leukemia to be special guest at Gator game

- We've reported on a Lake County boy, eight-year-old Jay Ryon, and his  successful fight against leukemia.  Now, he's making big news again, garnering support from around the globe and in our own neck of the woods, including the Florida Gators football team. 

Jay is finally prepping for the big homecoming game this weekend, where he has been invited as the team's special guest.  He and his parents have decked out their SUV.   Jay's prediction:  "Gators 30, Vandy 0."  We asked how confident he was in his pick. "I'm betting I'll be the kicker!" he told us. 

It might be best to leave the kicking to the pros, but he has been helping the team in another way. When he posted online a poster challenging the team to beat Ole Miss, just like he is beating cancer, it caught the attention of the team.  Player Chris Thompson called him and Coach Jim McElwain invited him to a game as a special guest, since he had become a source of inspiration. 

But Jay has been in the hospital, battling a bacterial infection from an ant bite.  Chemotherapy for his leukemia, which is now in remission, weakens his immune system but strengthens his spirit.  He posts words of inspiration for the team each week.  Jay says, "I'll be there if you need me, because I'll be there if they need me on the field!"

Jay and his family don't know what being a special guest of the team includes, but they do know it has led to this interview and another one the night before on a national sports program.  

Jay will be done with chemotherapy in two more years, then hopefully, done with cancer entirely. And while he has inspired the team, they have inspired him too.  He says with a big yell, "The day I'm done with chemo, I'll be like, 'Yeah!'"  

We will too, Jay.

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