Millions of Americans are anxiously awaiting the showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. For two northern Nevadans, however, Super Bowl XLVIII is much more than a game.
Kody Beach, who lives near Elko, has been in and out of the hospital fighting cancer for the past year. When he was just 15 years old, he noticed an unusual spot on his foot. "It was on the bottom of my foot at first and then a lymph node swelled in my groin." Doctors diagnosed Kody with stage four melanoma, which has spread to his lungs. Just recently, they also removed a tumor from behind his knee.
It has been a long year of treatment and surgeries. "No child should have to go through this; a lot of sleepless nights," said Kody's parents, Carmen and Kirt Beach. They travel to California frequently for hospital visits and treatment, but do not recall ever having a big, fun, family trip.
Gary Kasden can relate. He, too, is no stranger to sleepless nights. For the past eight years, he has battled Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. During one of his last rounds of treatment at the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckee, he and his wife, Megan, entered a raffle for Super Bowl tickets. "We never thought we'd win, because we never ever win anything! Then on a Monday night they held the drawing and the phone rang." The Kasdens won two tickets to the Super Bowl, plus hotel accommodations and airfare! Unfortunately, in the last couple weeks, Gary came down with pneumonia. So, the Kasdens decided to give away the prize.
Leslie Katich, of the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation, received a call asking if there is a deserving child. She immediately thought of Kody and arranged a surprise lunch at Rapscallions to present the tickets.
This week that surprise happened. Kody walked into a packed room, full of news crews, photographers, family and friends. "Surprise!" He was shocked! Gary immediately asked him, "Are you a (Denver) Broncos fan?" To which, Kody replied, "No." After the crowd broke out in laughter, Megan said, "Well, you're going to have to be one on Sunday! We're sending you and your family to the Super Bowl!"
Here's the best part. Remember Megan said they only won two tickets in the raffle? When the Super Bowl package arrived, for some, unknown reason, there were four tickets inside instead of two! "I believe in angels," Megan said with a smile. She and her husband are two of them. "To see the look on the family's face was just wonderful. It's the old saying, it's better to give than to receive," added Gary.
As for Kody, he is still shocked! "You're going to the Super Bowl, has is sunk in yet?" I ask. "No!" he replies with a giggle. "I'm just excited!" The Beach family took off for their well-deserved trip of a lifetime at 6 a.m.
To learn more about:Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckeehttp://www.tfhd.com/news_detail.asp?ID=159 Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundationhttp://www.nvchildrenscancer.org/
Written by Kristen Remington