A 5-year-old cancer survivor was the star of the Cleveland Browns’ scrimmage Saturday night, bringing a crowd of over 20,000 to its feet with his 40-yard touchdown run.
Thanks to the Littlest Heroes organization, Ryan Encinas, who was diagnosed with lung cancer when he was 2, took a handoff from Brandon Weeden and headed for the end zone behind the “blocking” of Trent Richardson.
“I don’t know if you can comprehend how amazing that is,” Angela Bozic, Ryan’s mother, said (via Ohio.com). “This is a kid who underwent all that treatment, who suffered surgery that left him with half of a lung on his left side, who has undergone so much. It’s amazing.”
Doctors continue to monitor Encinas, who is two years out of chemotherapy, with full-body scans every three months and will continue to do so for the next three years. Initially, he was given a 40-percent chance of survival and had a tumor pressing against his heart and causing his lung to collapse. He hasn’t always had the chance to just be a kid, as his Browns teammates realized.
“He couldn’t do the things he wanted to do growing up, but to have this moment in front of these fans in this stadium, I’m getting chills right now,” Barkevious Mingo said. “I’m sure it meant a lot to that little kid.”
After he scored, the Browns lifted him and carried him off, just as the Nebraska team did earlier this year with Jack Hoffman, a 7-year-old brain cancer patient.
And what was the experience like for little Ryan? Wearing a No. 1 Browns jersey, he giggled in an interview with “NFL AM” that it was “good.”