7-year-old Julian would not stop smiling. Sitting in the hospital grinning from ear to ear he said, "I will leave. We are leaving now."
Julian's father describes it as one of the best moments in his son's life. Someone had given Julian the courage and strength to keep going. Now, he is going to have the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the Bills practice in full uniform.
On August 4th, 2011, 7-year-old Julian Ross was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a very rare childhood cancer.
"A lot of social workers and friends gave us the idea of putting together a bucket list," said Kristi Thompson, Julian's mother. "At first we were mortified that our 7-year-old has to have a bucket list but after, we said 'we are going to do this.'
Julian's bucket list consists of a hairless cat, a trip to see the band Train, a ride on an aircraft carrier and submarine, the opportunity to meet Turtle Man on Animal Planet and the Gator Boys in Miami among many other things. Of course there was just one more wish. He wanted to meet the entire Bills team, see a professional football team play and see the players in person.
"I think he doesn't believe they are real people," said Thompson. "He is so excited."
After being discharged from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia at noon on Wednesday, Julian and his family made their way to Pittsford, NY to attend Buffalo Bills Training Camp.
"Once he found out about it, we saw a big change in him," said his father Steve. "It was like someone breathed life into him and he was determined to get out of bed and walk last night."
Julian was able to watch the entire Bills night practice. After practice, he sat near the locker room as each of the players came to personally meet him and sign his football. Many players gave Julian their hats and gloves. Julian handed each of the players one of his bracelets, which reads "Julian's Joust."
"This was an unbelievable experience," said Bills wide receiver David Nelson. "To see what he's going through at such a young age is mind blowing. It really puts things in perspective. It was really humbling for me to be able to speak to him and for him to come all the way out here just to see us practice."
"It was great to see him out here enjoying practice and see a smile on his face," said Bills punter Brian Moorman. "That's what it's about, coming out, enjoying the night and meeting all the players. It means just as much to us as it does to him."
Julian was star struck. Meeting the players was an incredible experience for him. The fact that each of the players met him and signed his ball was something he will never forget. He was grinning from ear to ear.
"This is the first time in months I have seen him so happy," said Thompson.
Julian would not stop smiling. After meeting the entire team, he and his family gathered on the field with the signature packed football for a family photo.
"This took one thing off his list that was huge for him," said his father.
Julian thanked the Buffalo Bills and told buffalobills.com, "This was awesome. This was the best day of my life, and the French fries were really good."