41. A Young Rebel Fan’s Courageous Battle

    Oxford’s Chance Tetrick battles leukemia with the support of the Ole Miss football team. 

    Chance Tetrick gets a VIP tour from Ole MIss WR Donte Mocrief. Photo courtesy of Jeff Tetrick
    Chance Tetrick gets a VIP tour from Ole MIss WR Donte Moncrief. Photo courtesy of Jeff Tetrick

    Many in the Ole Miss community are familiar with the “Win the Day” philosophy of the Ole Miss Rebels, but few are engaged in a battle as tough as the one young Chance Tetrick faces every day. Chance is a 10-year old Oxford boy ferociously fighting cancer.

    Recently Jeff Tetrick, Chance’s father, spoke of his son’s illness and how the Rebels football team is playing a role in the boy’s struggle against the disease.

    Jeff and his wife Jennifer are Rebels from Indianapolis. They moved to Oxford in 2010 so Jennifer could finish her Audiology degree at Ole Miss. Jeff recalled, “I first visited Ole Miss in 1995 and loved it, so we jumped at the opportunity three years ago to make it our home.” Their daughter Collins was born in Oxford in August, 2010.

    In February, 2013, Chance was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and immediately sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.  “We were there until May 1 when Chance finally got to go back home,” Jeff said.

    The family still travels back to St. Jude once or twice per week for intense chemotherapy; however, Chance’s treatment does not stop there. He also endures chemo every night when he is at home in Oxford.  “He has had an up and down battle these first six months,” Jeff said, “but has been a trooper through it all.”

    Chance is scheduled to undergo treatment for two more years, through July of 2015, but the little boy is a fighter determined to beat his illness.

    On June 21st, Chance had the opportunity to meet Ole Miss football players and coaches and experience their heartfelt encouragement and support.

    Tom Allen, the Rebels’ special teams and linebackers coach, arranged the visit.

    Jeff explained that he and Coach Allen both grew up in small towns outside of Indianapolis about 40 miles apart, and that Allen coached high school football a few miles away from where Jeff lived.

    “Though Tom and I had never met, I admired his success and Christian leadership at his school,” Jeff said. “And when he arrived with Coach Freeze, I went and introduced myself. It turns out he even has a few family members who live in the town in which I grew up. It is truly a small world.”

    Little did Jeff realize he and his family would soon receive an outpouring of support from Allen and the staff.

    “Tom was one of the first prayer warriors in Chance’s corner when I announced Chance had leukemia,” he said.

    The Tetricks have a strong faith and are grateful for the support from the Rebel football program.

    “Since day one, the coaches have prayed for Chance at every staff meeting,” Jeff said. “They have ‘Pray for Chance’ written on the board in their meeting room, and players have joined the cause, as well,” he said. Head Coach Hugh Freeze even called the Tetricks at St. Jude the first week the family was there.

    Coach Allen and his family visited the little boy in the hospital, and Allen recounted what they found upon their arrival. “Chance had just finished chemo and was probably not feeling so great,” Allen said.  “But he had this wonderful smile on his face — because that is just the way he is. He and his family have such an awesome attitude and a strong faith.”

    Allen has obviously been deeply touched by Chance’s fight and by the faith that is carrying the little boy and his family through such adversity.

    “Chance is an inspiration to all of us,” he said. “My family and I went to see him at St. Jude, just hoping we could encourage him in some way. However, when we left the hospital, we realized, to our amazement, that WE were the ones who were blessed by the visit. My three kids were truly changed by the experience of meeting Chance.”

    Chance Tetrick and Thomas Allen, Coach Allen’s son, during Chance’s June 21st visit. Photo courtesy of Coach Tom Allen
    Chance Tetrick and Thomas Allen, Coach Allen’s son, during Chance’s June 21st visit. Photo courtesy of Coach Tom Allen

    Though Chance had visited Vaught-Hemingway stadium as a fan, he was in for an extra treat when Coach Allen arranged the June 21st behind-the-scenes visit.

    “We showed him the football offices and meeting rooms,” Allen said.  “While there, he got to meet a lot of the players and take pictures with them.  We gave him a football autographed by the team and an Ole Miss t-shirt, but he was most excited about the All-Access Pass we gave him.  He was thrilled about that!”

    Chance meeting with Denzel Nkemdiche at the Ole Miss IPF. Photo courtesy of Jeff Tetrick
    Chance meets with Denzel Nkemdiche in the Ole Miss IPF. Photo courtesy of Jeff Tetrick

    The support did not stop there. “We are definitely going to bring him back for a game, and just want to make sure he knows we are here for him,” Allen said. The coach frequently texts Jeff for updates on Chance’s condition, and also keeps up with the family’s posts on “Chance’s Landing” – a Facebook page dedicated to supporting Chance. The Allen and Tetrick families also see one another at church on Sundays.

    Jeff is quick to point out how much the Rebel Family means to the Tetricks.

    “We have had an awesome outpouring of support from Rebel Nation and the Oxford community,” he said.  “It has been such an incredible blessing.”

    With all Chance is going through, it is comforting for the family to know he has so many people rooting for him. “The visit with the coaches and players has been Chance’s favorite moment,” Jeff said.  “He has had a rough year, but that day was a highlight for him.”

    Coach Allen, on the other hand, is quick to emphasize what Chance means to the coaches and players. “He has given us far more than we could ever give him. He is an inspiration to our program because he fights the good fight each and every day, and does so with a positive attitude.”

    Jeff says his son is very excited about the coming season, and “frequently entertains the St. Jude nurses who are from Ole Miss and talks football with them.”

    Though Chance and his family have a tough road ahead, they know they will not go it alone. As Coach Allen said, “Like Chance’s family, we believe God is in charge; He is the Great Physician, and we pray God heals Chance. In the meantime, we want him to know that we are with him, side by side. He is not facing this alone.”

    Rebel Nation is indeed firmly behind Chance and his family. If you would like to join Chance’s Prayer Warriors, please follow @JeffTetrick on Twitter or visit the family’s Facebook page titled, “Chance’s Landing.”

    –Evelyn was born in Texas, but has strong family ties to Mississippi. Her relatives are from Hinds County, and her daughter received three degrees from Ole Miss–culminating with a PharmD in 2012. Evelyn studied English at Texas A&M University, but is an Ole Miss Rebel at heart, falling in love with the both the school and Oxford over a decade ago when her daughter began school. Evelyn has a home in Texas, but spends as much time as possible in Mississippi where her daughter still lives. She enjoys covering Ole Miss football for gridirongirl.org and HottyToddy.com. olemissevie@gmail.com

     

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