The gentleman in the photo to the right is Itzy Cagen. Cagen was only two years old when he was a victim in an accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
That was more than 20 years ago, making him the longest surviving quadriplegic in the world.
Since that time, Cagen has developed a deep passion for the Houston Texans and is now one of superstar defensive end JJ Watt’s biggest fans.
That was pretty much all Eran Melnik had in mind when she posted a brief message onto Watt’s Facebook wall.
I am a nurse here in Houston and this is a picture of my patient… I have been his nurse for four years now and I don’t think there is a bigger Texans fan out there. During the season, every morning I would wake him up and he would announce “J. J. SWATT!!!”. Just thought you would like to know that he is out there and would love to meet you if at all possible. We understand that you are busy, but who knows? Send me a message if anything comes up….
Melnik’s friends, with the support of Kids of Courage, a volunteer-based non-profit created to help children and young adults suffering from catastrophic injuries or serious medical diagnoses, eventually got the post to go viral. Comedy writer Jenny Johnson tweeted it to her 300,000 followers.
It was everywhere and, finally, 103 days later, Watt saw it and responded, “We will make this happen.”
They did — and the rest was all smiles. Itzy cannot do much of anything on his own, but he can move his head. He can talk, and laugh, and feel joy.
And for one day, in a life filled with minute-by-minute struggles, Itzy was able to feel exactly that, courtesy of his hero, former Wisconsin Badgers superstar-turned NFL Pro Bowler JJ Watt.
The photo below was tweeted out by Itzy’s brother, Danny, who thanked Watt for taking the time out of his busy schedule to hang out with Cagen.
Very few individuals in the world are blessed with a platform professional athletes such as Watt are given. It is a refreshing sight to see these superstars using it to help individuals who are less fortunate.