Notre dame has beat the odds this season. Something that Sam Grewe, 14, hopes to accomplish as well in his fight against cancer.
Grewe's path crossed with the Irish when the team adopted him. Since then, he's been a fixture on the sidelines as the victories continued to pile up.
Sam has been an athlete, playing basketball, football and even soccer. That all had to change when he found out about his diagnosis.
So, the chance to spend a season getting to know these players was the perfect way to find the motivation to stay mentally strong, even when his body felt weak.
Amid the cheers, as he runs through the tunnel, there's one face that most Notre Dame fans might not recognize.
“He didn't miss any of the home games, he's in the locker room with the guys,” said Sam’s mother Michelle.
Sam gets a unique perspective, a first-hand look at what it means to be part of an undefeated season.
It’s something that goes a long way to motivate a teen going through a tough battle.
“He's been in the hospital close to 140 days, several surgeries,” said Michelle. “It’s just been a long process.”
Back in December 2011, Sam started feeling pain in his knee. Tests soon showed that a rare form of cancer was to blame.
“Sam was told he had a tumor on Christmas Eve last year and then he overheard a conversation on Christmas Day. That's how he found out he had cancer,” said Michelle.
And the decision was made to go with what's called a Rotationplasty in hopes of making Sam cancer-free and giving him the chance to one day Get back to playing sports.
“they cut his leg off the top and at bottom removed the center section, and they took what was left of his lower leg and re-attached it to the top of the leg, but backwards,” his mother described.
But getting through that surgery was just a little bit easier knowing that an entire football team was cheering him on. A fact that goes a long way on days when Sam feels the effects of chemo treatments.
Just days before his amputation, the Irish donned "Grewe Crew" shirts as they welcomed him on board. Now, Sam calls some of the Irish players his good friends.
And the players themselves see him as an inspiration.
“He became one of our brothers, just having him on our team is so motivating, shows you can overcome anything,” said Danny Spond.
Pictures from this unforgettable season line the walls in the Grewe basement. Moments that helped Sam push through.
Now there's one final game before the final chemo rounds.
“This culmination of a national championship game, the end of their season is happening so close to the end of our chemotherapy,” said Michelle. “Feels like everything is getting wrapped up…reasons to celebrate and move on.
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