CHARLES TOWN – Tyler Wilt, the Washington High quarterback diagnosed with cancer four months ago, will be back on the field this weekend in a big way. Football fans can look for the teenager on the sidelines with quarterback Tim Tebow Sunday as the N.Y. Jets’ host the Buffalo Bills.
Wilt’s encounter will come through the NFL star’s Wish 15 program, a non-profit begun in 2010 that allows young people with life-threatening illnesses from across the country and even abroad to spend the pregame with Tebow.
According to the Tim Tebow Foundation’s website, its mission is “to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” Tebow, the son of Christian missionaries known for sharing his faith, also promises to pray for those battling health crises who contact his foundation.
Also Sunday, Wilt and his family also will get to watch the game from prime seats for the 1 p.m. game. Wilt will have his photo taken with the quarterback and will take home a Jets jersey and his hero’s autograph.
Ronda Lehman, who is the Football Boosters secretary at Washington, said it was Wilt’s teammate Tony Vazquez who got the Tebow ball rolling, contacting the Jacksonville, Fla.-based foundation in the days just after Tyler’s diagnosis in May.
Months later, word of Tebow’s formal invitation for the Wilts to come to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., happened to arrive on Monday evening as the family shared dinner at the Vazquez family’s home.
The senior’s selection to get the star treatment from Tebow is a welcome bit of news, explained Lehman.
“Our football family has taken hit after hit the past few years,” she said. Bruce Davidson, who coached the Patriots in their first two seasons and had served as an assistant coach at Jefferson High starting in 1984, died unexpectedly in late 2010.
Coach Mike Grant was diagnosed with cancer not long before Tyler was.
“The boys seem to be coming through it all with important life lessons,” Lehman said. “They have learned how to reach out and help one another. Reaching out to foundations, trips to DC to see the Wilts and lift them, yard work days at Coach Grant’s, three fundraisers for a cure, and being one of the youngest teams in the Relay for Life [in June], are just a few of the things the boys have done in the face of adversity.
“They keep getting up after each blow, and working to soften the impact. Imagine the world if every community could pull together the way this football family has?”
Lehman says she’s grown during the experience, too. “My work as a football booster at WHS has been one of the most gut-wrenching and joyous experiences in my life,” she said. “Truly inspirational.”
Last year, Wilt threw for more than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns and ran for another 750 years and 11 TDs.
Wilts’ parents are also part of the Washington football family. His father, Troy Wilt, is the team’s quarterbacks coach while his mother, Tracie Wilt, serves as the treasurer of the football boosters.
For more on Tebow’s foundation, go to www.timtebowfoundation.org/W15h.