Going end zone to end zone is a big deal for any football player, but for 11-year-old Gabe Treve, it was life-changing. That’s because he stood up from his power wheelchair and walked 100 yards in leg braces at Michigan Stadium, the home of his favorite team.
The boy from Michigan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 5 years old, and when a rare reaction to a chemotherapy drug caused the nerves in his spine to become inflamed, he was left paralyzed from the waist down.
He was transferred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where doctors changed his treatment plan. Today, Gabe’s cancer is in remission. However, his legs still don’t work quite right. He’s been working with occupational and physical therapists, and his goal is to one day catch a football standing upright.
A huge University of Michigan football fan, Gabe says the team motivates him to work hard. He often plays catch and runs routes (in his chair) with his grandfather. He can even reel in catches one-handed.
“I need to push myself a lot, whether it’s my homework, whether it’s walking, I know that I have to keep pushing myself to get better,” Gabe told Michigan Medicine.
Knowing Gabe’s love for the team, a substitute teacher’s husband wrote a letter to head coach Jim Harbaugh, which landed on the equipment manager’s desk. So, a tour of the stadium was arranged for Gabe and his family.
It just so happened that one of Gabe’s walking goals was to go the distance at the stadium, so he thought, “Why not now?”
So, he stood up from his chair and took off.
“I was just looking at my feet the whole time, and when I looked up, I realized I was at the halfway mark. So I thought, ‘I’m not going to stop now,’” Gabe told Michigan Medicine. “I got tired, but I pushed myself. I want my legs to work, and if I don’t push myself, I won’t get better. I felt like I worked really hard and accomplished something that day.”
It left everyone stunned, including his grandmother.
“When I saw him walking the field, I’m thinking to myself, ‘This boy is gonna go far. This boy is going to make his goals because he wants it so badly, and he’s not going to give up,'” she said.
Here’s a look at Gabe’s unbelievable run. More than that, it’s a dive into his incredible fortitude.
That’s the heart of a champion right there.