Phenix City teacher Courtney Cooper called Cam Newton’s hospital visit to a sick boy “unbelievable” Wednesday morning.
Cooper took to Facebook last week asking the Carolina Panthers quarterback to visit 10-year-old Austin Deckard at Atlanta’s Egleston Hospital where he is scheduled to have surgery this week.
“It has been on television, ‘Good Morning America,’ just everywhere,” Cooper said. “It is amazing.”
Cooper is a physical education teacher at Lakewood Elementary School in Phenix City where Austin, a fifth-grader, is one of her students.
Austin has been diagnosed with advanced pulmonary hypertension. It is a rare disorder in which the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs become narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow through the vessels. As a result, the blood pressure in these arteries rises far above normal levels. The abnormally high blood pressure strains the right ventricle of the heart, causing it to expand in size. Overworked and enlarged, the right ventricle gradually becomes weaker and loses its ability to pump enough blood to the lungs, which could lead to heart failure.
Cooper said the prognosis for Austin is not good.
“Pray for a miracle,” she said.
Austin is a big Auburn University football fan and Newton, a former Tiger, is his favorite player. Austin told Cooper he wished to meet Newton and Cooper decided to use social media, “a strong force for making things happen,” to get the word to Newton and “make one sick little boy happy.”
Newton came to the hospital Tuesday and played with Austin in the room in which he has been three weeks.
“I thought I had an unknown number, but dude I’ve gotten about 100 calls about you,” Newton said.
Cooper added: “To my family, my friends, the new friends I have made through this amazing act of love and support, Make a Wish Foundation, the Cam Newton Foundation, Auburn University, the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton, and my Lord and Savior I thank you in a way that I can’t even express or put into words. And I know Taylor Austin Deckard’s family feels the same way.”
Cooper said many played a role in making Austin’s dream come true.
In a Facebook post she wrote, “First, let me say while I appreciate the credit and love being shown to me, all I did was start the post and make a few phone calls.”
She said the amount of people who reached out to her, including people she did not know, “proved to me there is still good in this world and that if we rally together, we can make wonderful memorable things happen.”
Cam Newton scores with visit to boy battling heart condition
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There’s no doubt Cam Newton has a soft spot in his heart for kids.
That was never more evident than this week when the Panthers quarterback surprised a 10-year-old boy with a serious heart condition - and got a big hug in return.
The league’s reigning league MVP visited Taylor Austin Deckard in an Atlanta children’s hospital Tuesday. Taylor was wearing Newton’s No. 2 Auburn jersey at the time.
When Newton asked him how he was doing, Taylor climbed out of bed and hugged him. During the long embrace, Newton said, “I feel your heart. It’s going 1,000 miles an hour.”
Newton appeared touched by the moment in the video posted by Auburn. He twice said, “Aw, man.”
Taylor initially pouted after his parents told him to turn off his tablet. Then Newton walked in saying, “What’s going on buddy?”
Newton spoke about the encounter at his weekly press conference on Wednesday. He didn’t know what to expect when he walked into the boy’s hospital room.
“I read a lot of things about him and what he likes,” Newton said. “Then when I go in there he hugs me. And it’s the parent touch. You can’t explain it. You can’t really explain it. My heart falls for a child in any situation. I was just there to comfort him. It was something that happened naturally.”
Newton described the boy as full of joy and full of energy, which made him sad to know that he’s battling a heart problem.
Newton said he was blown away by the strength of the boy’s family, most notably his father Timothy.
“You have a strong man who will not let his son see him bat an eye,” Newton said. “He has all the right words to say and all the comfort to give. And the mom is just as strong as he is and they are just there for him. And it inspires me because I have kids. ... When (Taylor) looked at his dad and he looked at his mom, he just knew everything was going to be all right.”
Newton has done many things through his Cam Newton Foundation since joining the Panthers in 2011, most of which revolve around helping kids.
He recently played “Santa Cam” giving more $100,000 worth of toys to children before the holidays. He regularly holds athletic events where young kids from across the Charlotte area come to compete in fun games.
In August, after eyewitness saw Newton delivering food to the homeless, Panthers backup quarterback Joe Webb had comments on Newton’s character, CBS Sports reported.
“It’s like second nature for him,” Webb said. “It’s no surprise that he did it. A lot of people say, ‘What are you doing when people aren’t looking?’ It speaks volumes that he’s a great person.”
Newton said the meeting on Tuesday wasn’t as a publicity stunt.
“I got back to Atlanta often and look at kids who are playing in the same parks that I played in little did they know I did the same things - walk to the same stores, went to the same schools and had the same teacher,” Newton said. “(The reason) why I’m doing what I’m doing is just to impact in a positive way. It’s for the masses of the youth. That is where my heart goes to. I try to use my influence in a positive way.”