It's often said that one of life's most precious gifts is friendship and that a good friend is truly invaluable. This is certainly the case for Bills quarterback Josh Allen and his 13-year-old buddy Cade "SuperCade" Spinello. Their lifelong bond that began over three years ago, recently grew stronger when Allen took the time to support Spinello in a big way.
On Saturday, March 16, Allen attended the Eighth Annual Jessie Rees Foundation: Never Ever Give Up! "Celebration of Courageous Smiles Gala," a fundraising event, held at the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom in Anaheim, California, that holds special meaning for Spinello and his family. At just five years old, Spinello was discovered to have a brain tumor and suffered a massive stroke while in surgery. Although he is still battling side effects, Spinello has become an advocate for other children through his work as a NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) Junior Ambassador.
An evening focused on providing care and encouragement to "Courageous Kids," children who have been affected by cancer, their "Super Sibs," and parents, it was only fitting for SuperCade himself to be given an opportunity to thank someone who has made a big difference in his life and many other lives. Standing before a crowd of 750 people, Spinello presented former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer with the "Humanitarian of the Year Award" and he did so with Allen by his side.
While Allen's selfless gesture may seem small, to the youngster, his family, and the 50 other "Courageous Kids" in attendance, it meant the world.
"It was awesome to have him right there with me to walk me out when I presented the award," Spinello explained. "It makes me comfortable with all the other people [watching]. Vision-wise, I know that he's there. I'm legally blind, so it's good to know that somebody's there watching my back.
"Josh is really humble and if you don't know football, you would just think he is a regular person. He was holding my hand and stuff. It was really cool to present it with him."
"Erin and I didn't worry at all knowing that he was with Josh," said Cade's father Mike. "They take them [while] we're sitting at the table and they go back stage, and there could be stairs and walking in dark halls and things, but we knew Cade was in good hands."
Not only did Allen's presence at the event reinforce his dedication to the Jessie Rees Foundation and its admirable mission, it brought his friendship with Spinello full circle.
"It's been a foundation that's been encouraging us for eight years," said Mike. "Jessie was diagnosed just a month after Cade, so this foundation has walked with us our entire journey. So, we've seen it grow and that's the blue wristband that Josh is wearing. It's a NEGU [wristband]. That was Jessie's motto, 'Never Ever Give Up.'
"It's because of Jordan Palmer that Cade knows Josh…Jordan would invite Cade to throw with the guys and then share his story at his QB Summits that he has. That's how we got to know Josh when he was at Wyoming. It was probably about a three-year relationship that's grown. Just seeing him here and there and then obviously about a year ago when he was training for the [NFL Scouting] Combine, Cade got a lot of time with him…And then Jordan, what he does for Josh and for the quarterbacks is amazing. It's not just about X's and O's – he really cares about their character. He really challenges them…and challenges them to use their platform for good…and the thing is, Josh is doing that."
Spending an evening surrounded by Allen and hundreds of others who want to make a difference, was more than anything the Spinellos could have asked for.
"I really feel like there are no words," said Cade's mother Erin Spinello. "But to try, it feels like you're running a marathon and all of these people are cheering you on and you can go further and faster than you thought with their encouragement. It really does feel like that."