ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO - The program is called Sunday Night Lights.
The idea is to give kids battling life-threatening illness and their families a chance to experience the thrill of playing football under the lights. It’s become a tradition in the Lindbergh High School community as volunteers work throughout the year to create a special night.
Lori Krueger is one of the parents who helped launch Sunday Night Lights. She calls the players and their families heroes.
“The magic in how they carry on and their determination and courage and strength that they have as parents and grandparents, as siblings, as the patients themselves, they’re absolutely heroes,” she said.
The inspiration behind the program began with Jacob Franzel. He died in 2012 from a form of bone cancer. He was a senior at Lindbergh High School.
“His number one dream was besides a cure for cancer, would have been a day back to normalcy,” said Mike Franzel, Jacob’s father.
Sunday Night Lights has since brought thousands of fans to Lindbergh High School to cheer on the players.
“It just mushroomed into one of these events where I feel like the parents of the kids if you just look at their faces, you don’t have to say a word. It’s enough for me,” said Sunday Night Lights board member Tom Beauchamp.
Another big part of the night is giving community members a better understanding of the challenges faced by the families of the players and how much more research is needed to solve illnesses such as childhood cancer.
Carol Trimble is the mother of one of the children who participated in Sunday’s game.
“The kids that play, they just have that feeling of accomplishment and they’re superstars for the night,” she said. “It’s great to see their smiling faces.”