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The Dutch Destroyer

Nov 29, 2017 • by Cheyenne Hassler, Alvernia University, citizen contributor
Football

Who doesn’t love the game of football? When it comes down to it football was more than just a game to a young boy named Lukas Kusters. Football was his life, family is football and football is family. Lukas’ love of the game started in his front yard playing with his brothers, before joining a league at the age of six. He earned the name of “The Dutch Destroyer” by the viciousness of his spirit and style of his play. He had a killer attitude that could push him through anything. This served him well as the second youngest of five boys in a football-crazed household, and later as he geared up for what doctors described as the fight of his life.

Lukas loved playing football as much as he loved watching it. Carson Wentz was drafted by the Eagles within days of eight-year-old Lukas being diagnosed with stomach cancer. The hospital room where Lukas would stay for a year of chemotherapy and radiation was decorated in green and white. Along the wall hung Wentz’s Eagles and North Dakota State jerseys. The one technician who worked on Lukas’ case reached out to the Eagles to tell them about his story. One little boys dream has come true, a bunch of Eagles gear was delivered along with a video message from Wentz. This was just the beginning of Lukas’ relationship with his hero.

Doctors told the Kusters that Lukas did not have long to live and that they should focus on Lukas’ wish. The wish is an arranged experience from Make-A-Wish foundation for children with life-threatening medical conditions. His mom said, “Look, buddy, let’s think of something good and positive and happy right now.” “Let’s think about your wish and what you could do.” Lukas replied, “Mom, I just want to thank Carson.” The only thing that Lukas wanted in the whole world was to thank Carson Wentz for the video he had sent him during treatment. Turns out Wentz and the Eagles had planned something a little bigger. A limo picked up Lukas and his family last May and brought them to the practice facility where they were greeted by coach Doug Pederson before taking a tour. As the came to the locker room Wentz arrived. The very first thing Lukas did was give Carson a bracelet. On the bracelet was ‘Dutch Destroyer’. The tour continued Lukas got autographs from all the players and Carson even made him a smoothie. As their tour was coming to an end, Lukas got out of his wheelchair and gave Wentz a hug. By Lukas’ request he rubbed his bald head. “He said it was for good luck,” Wentz said. “And I just told him that I’m praying for him, and I just knew it was something that I would never forget. It was a day that started as I thought would be just a simple hang out with this kid, and it went way deeper than that.

Lukas died thirteen days after his Make-A-Wish visit with Carson Wentz. The family decided to bury him in Wentz No. 11 jersey. The quarterback broke down in an interview with ESPN when he recalled the moment he heard. Carson also sent flowers to the funeral and penned a hand-written letter to the family. “It’s so much deeper than football is what it comes down to. It’s so much more than just a game. Impactful. Meaningful. Powerful. And just another reminder for me that it is more than a game; and to just be authentic and genuine with people.” ‘Til this day Carson still wears the bracelet in games, he never takes it off. It gives him extra motivation and reminds him of that bigger picture purpose.

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