Super Bowl Contenders + Memories Makers: CJ's experience with the 49ers
Throughout the 2019-2020 NFL season, AEF has had the pleasure of partnering with the San Francisco 49ers to empower Bay Area kids battling cancer. Through the season young fighters got to experience the Niners in once in a lifetime activations. From a private tour of the facilities, to going on field at a completely empty Levi’s Stadium, to the crème de la crème of getting to close out practice in the huddle, the 49ers captains have created
memories for life.
One captain and his family in particular created memories they will continue to cherish. 10-year-old CJ and his family entered the practice facility on week 9 donned in their best niner gang gear. Parents Calvin and Sheba walked in with their 5 kids and were immediately met by offensive tackle, Jose Staley who leaned down to walk to CJ in his wheelchair. CJ has an inoperable brain tumor that has left him in a wheelchair with half of his body in minimal function. After Staley left, the group went into the facilities and were given a private tour of the halls the NFL players walk every day. When on the field, CJ was able to stand out of his wheelchair for pictures with his family at the stadium they’ve attended several times before, but never in such an intimate setting.
After the tour the family was led out to the practice field where the 49ers gave everyone swag to add to their collection. After practice is over it is tradition for visiting cancer fighter to walk out to the players to break down the huddle. For CJ, all the players gathered around him and cheered for a win, and strength and perseverance in his battle. Players then lined up to sign CJ’s jersey for him to remember the special time he had with his favorite team.
The next day on Sunday game-day, CJ was able to watch pregame warmups and received a special fist bump and pump up talk with wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. For the national anthem, CJ again found the strength to stand with his dad, a veteran holding him up. The game ended in a niners win with CJ cheering from Club Level seats.
CJ has a hard journey ahead, with clinical trials, and doctors’ visits, but his days with the 49ers gave him immeasurable strength. His mom Sheba commented, “CJ couldn’t stop talking in the car about the players he met, the experiences he had, and how amazing the day was.” At AEF we are proud to help these experiences happen and give families memories to take with them forever.