cheap nfl jerseys canada Bengals’ Brandon Thompson gives gift of ‘I Am Leah Strong’
THOMASVILLE Gloria Glass surprised her kids Monday morning with a spring break trip to the Thomas County Public Library.
Her 9 year old daughter, Lydia, didn’t only leave with a book. She also left with a Cincinnati Bengals autographed mug, a story about a young girl who beat cancer and a family photo with Bengals defensive tackle Brandon Thompson.
Thompson, a Thomasville High School graduate who re signed with the Bengals last month on a one year contract, came home for a reading of the children’s book “I Am Leah Strong.”
It recounts in a child friendly way how teammate Devon Still’s then 4 year old daughter Leah stayed strong and fought Nueroblastoma stage 4 cancer.
Her story captivated the country shortly after Still went public with the news in June 2014. The Bengals cut the defensive end, but kept him on their practice squad so his insurance would cover 100 percent of the $1 million cost. It also allowed him to see Leah, who lived in Delaware with her mother, more often even when he was moved up to the 53 man roster.
The team went a step further, putting his jersey on sale and donating all of the proceeds to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and pediatric research; The support far exceeded expectations with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton purchasing 100 jerseys himself.
Leah is now 5 and cancer free after being given a 50 50 chance to live when first diagnosed with the disease. In the spring of 2015, with families reaching out to Still for advice, the player decided he and his daughter should write a children’s book to help others with what they had recently gone through.
“That book was written by her,” Still said in a news release by the NFL Players’ Association in May 2015. “I just had an outline of questions that I wanted to ask her.
Still, 26, is now a Houston Texan but he still keeps in touch with his close friend, Thompson.
“Hearing their story touched me,” Thompson said after signing autographs for the 60 plus people in attendance and taking photos. “I love them to death, so anything I can do to help I wanted to do.”
The 26 year old and his mother, Rosanna, asked the library last fall if they’d like for Thompson to donate the book after the season was over.
He bought six copies for each of the city and county elementary schools in the area, as well as the library, with Bengal bows clutching them together for the school representatives in the crowd.
Janet Owens, a kindergarten teacher at Jerger Elementary, accepted her school’s bundle and remembers fondly when Thompson was in her own classroom as a senior mentor with the football team.
Michele Sedam, a close friend of Rosanna Thompson and the media specialist at Harper, read the book for the crowd before a raffle and mingle time with the NFL player.
The raffle included Bengals items and copies of the book, most of which went to excited young kids bouncing at the chance for a picture with Thompson.
Lydia Glass’ raffle number won her a mug.
“It was exciting to get my number called,” she said. “Inever got to see one (an NFLplayer) in person before.”
The young girl is a Florida Gators fan who watches both college football and the NFL sometimes with her whole family, and sometimes just by herself.
“(I like) when they win the game and the mascots run out on the field,” said the Cross Creek student.
Fittingly her favorite part of the book, then, was the conclusion that the girl four years her junior beat cancer, even if there were no mascots jumping from the pages.
There was a beaming cartoon Leah, though, an asset of her personality Thompson said has never wavered when he saw her in person or on FaceTime chats.
“She’s so happy. Always smiling,” Thompson said. “Even just seeing her always happy and full of joy, some older adults aren’t like that.”