The highlight of Kansas State’s spring football game Saturday was made by an 8-year old.
Kaiden Schroeder, a young K-State fan from McPherson, Kan., who has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, got into the game late in the third quarter and scored on a 30-yard touchdown run. When the play was over, the entire K-State team celebrated with him in the end zone.
Kaiden wore a No. 44 uniform in honor of Leawood’s Ryan Mueller, his favorite player, and dressed in the team’s locker room. The scripted play was similar to the scene at Nebraska’s 2013 spring game in which another young person battling cancer, Jack Hoffman, scored a 69-yard touchdown.
K-State players knew the special moment was coming, but Kaiden did not.
“That was the highlight of my day,” said quarterback Jake Waters, who handed off the ball to Kaiden and showed him where to run. “I was in the backfield with him and he was a little wide eyed and nervous. It was something special. I am just so happy Coach Snyder let us do that.”
Added Mueller, who became friends with Kaiden while he was receiving treatment in Kansas City: “He was just speechless. His jaw dropped and he couldn’t believe it. That was awesome.”
Kaiden met Mueller shortly after the 2013 Fiesta Bowl and has made a connection with the K-State football team since.
“He has overcome battles,” Mueller said. “Who wants to spend their childhood doing that? I didn’t spend my eighth birthday party in a hospital. I can’t imagine going through that. We are all so glad we can help him out.”
K-State football players consider Kaiden an extension of the team. Some consider him an inspiration.
“That kid has touched so many lives on this football team,” center B.J. Finney said. “The only way I can describe it is he is one of God’s angels. There is no way around it. You look at him, and you see he knows certain things but there is a side of a kid in him. He has that innocence.
“He has changed some of our lives. I never thought something would move me as much as he did. That kid is such a blessing, and I am glad we could do that for him.”