There was a time, earlier in the day Wednesday, when Deb Wilson wasn’t sure her son, Noah, would be able to do this.
Noah had complained of a stomachache. He’d felt warm, which had caught the mother’s attention: If his fever reaches 101.5 or higher, he has to be at the hospital within an hour.
“There’s always that panic now,” she said.
But Wednesday was a special night, and so about 6 p.m., Noah and the rest of his family made their way into Kauffman Stadium, where — thanks to an inspiring stretch of kindness and generosity — they were set to watch game two of the World Series from some of the best seats in the house.
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Since Noah’s story went national last week — attracting the attention of various media organizations as well as former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre — the Wilsons, who live in Olathe, have been dizzied by events.
All week, the attention had grown. Unfamiliar numbers had popped up on the phone of Scott Wilson, Noah’s father. The Huffington Post emailed. Perez Hilton took a break from celebrity gossip to mention Noah, the 6-year-old Royals fan suffering from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Scott’s dad, between interviews with media in the stadium parking lot before the game Wednesday.
It all started in April, when Noah, complaining of back pain, went in for testing. Initial tests were inconclusive, but followup tests left little doubt.
The following months were a blur of chemo and radiation treatments, doctor visits and hospital stays. Within a month, Noah had lost his hair and his parents were left attempting to familiarize themselves with such an uncommon disease.
There weren’t a lot of happy moments.
True, he earned attention from People magazine in September for spearheading an effort to collect super-hero bandages for patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
And then, three weeks ago, something curious happened.
The Royals, a team Noah had rooted for at a handful of games over the summer, hit the postseason and started winning. First in the American League Wild Card game. Then came a sweep of the Angels in the division series, followed by another sweep of Baltimore in the league championship.
The team rattled off eight straight victories to reach the World Series for the first time in 29 years.
Noah, watching mostly from his hospital bed, was smitten. Something about this team captured his attention. He yelled at the TV, imploring this player or that to steal a base. He developed a particular affinity for Eric Hosmer.
“We’d watch games in his bed, because we had nothing else to do,” Scott said. “We’d just sit there and cheer, and he’d watch the whole thing, even when it went into 12, 13 innings.”
A family friend, in a gesture of kindness, started a small online movement to try to get Noah to a World Series game. Before long, that small movement was growing.
StubHub, the online ticket seller, heard about Noah and offered seven free tickets. A GoFundMe page raised more than $10,000. And last Friday, Joe Torre informed the family that they could be his guests. Some of the spare tickets would go to other sick children.
After that, things only got crazier.
On Monday, the Wilsons were invited to the World Series Gala at the stadium, where they got to walk on the field and rub elbows with various people from Major League Baseball. On Tuesday, a box bulging with T-shirts, backpacks and media guides showed up at the house, compliments of Major League Baseball.
And on Wednesday, while attending game two in Kansas City, they found out they would have the chance to meet Torre, the man responsible for much of the generosity.
Before the game, they posed for pictures with passers-by familiar with Noah’s story. His sisters, 8-year-old Kailey and 4-year-old Natalie, and 10-year-old brother Conner, watched from nearby.
Though weary and a little shy, Noah took it all in stride. And his parents were quick to thank all those who had offered their help.
“I’m so grateful for everyone’s generosity and support for our family,” Deb said Wednesday. “This has been one of the most humbling experiences I can remember.”
When they made it into the stadium, about 6 p.m., a representative from the commissioner’s office met the family at the guest services station, then led them down a narrow stairwell to a VIP-type room outside the visitors clubhouse.
While someone went to find Torre, Deb prepped the kids on what to say.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Torre,” she said.
A couple minutes later, Torre strode in.
“There he is,” Torre said, walking over to meet Noah.
For the next few minutes, Torre made small talk. He bent down on one knee. He signed a World Series baseball, handing it to Noah along with a caveat:
“You can’t play with this one,” he warned. “We can send you some you can play with.”
Noah was shy. He ducked his head, positioned himself behind his dad. But he also gave the former skipper a high five. And when the group gathered for a picture together a few minutes later, he smiled big.
During the game, Noah had a great time.
“Lots of people around were giving him high fives and fist bumps,” Scott said. “Several people recognized him and were calling his name, so he was having a blast.”
The next day, he would be back in the hospital for another round of what the family expects will be another six months or so of treatment.
But for one night, at least, he was able to watch his team in person.
And the Royals came through with a win, no less.
“It was great to get the whole family out,” Scott said. “For a night, we could just focus on each other, and the fun, and the energy in that building.
“And the Royals win was the icing on the cake.”
To reach Dugan Arnett, call 816-234-4039 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.