'More than football': Champion Caledonia team stops to see 7-year-old battling leukemia
Josiah Schroeder is a big football fan, but he can't attend many games these days. The 7-year-old is battling leukemia, and since he can't go watch one of his favorite teams play, the team came to him.
Josiah Schroeder is a big football fan, but he can't attend many games these days.
The 7-year-old is battling leukemia, and since he can't go watch one of his favorite teams play, the team came to him.
The Caledonia football team capped a perfect 13-0 season on Friday by winning the Class AA state championship in Minneapolis. After winning their 41st straight game overall, and third straight state title, the Warriors hopped on the bus and headed home, making a stop in Rochester along the way.
Josiah is currently at Mayo Clinic Hospital–Saint Marys getting treatment.
"We just did it to brighten his spirits," Caledonia assistant coach Brent Schroeder said. "We had a special bunch of kids this year, but this was about more than just football. They were very humbled."
Brent Schroeder is a distant cousin of Kyle Schroeder, who is Josiah's father. The two attended grade school together and have been longtime friends.
"It was a great idea by coach Schroeder," Caledonia head coach Carl Fruechte said. "We've been talking about it for a couple of weeks, to stop and see him. We just wanted to help the family out and we were honored by it."
"It was awesome, he loves football," Kyle Schroeder said. "It was a class act by the football team."
Josiah also got a thrill out of seeing the Warriors. They presented him with one of the game balls from the championship game and senior All-State quarterback Owen King also gave Josiah his championship medal from the game.
"It was Owen's medal, but any of the seniors would have done that," Fruechte said.
"He was humbled by it," Kyle Schroeder said. "It was a real tearjerker."
Josiah attended a couple of Caledonia games a year ago, but because of his treatment schedule, he was not able to go to a game this season. The Warriors did honor him during the season, however, when they donated all of the proceeds from their annual Tackle Cancer game to his family.
"Cancer has affected all of us," Fruechte said. "We just felt it was important to give back to the community."
Josiah turned 7 on Sept. 12. That was also the day he found out he had leukemia. He has been getting treatment in Rochester for more than a month. He did get to go home for Thanksgiving, however, and may soon be allowed to go home and have his mother give him his treatments.
"He's just got to work on healing and getting better," Brent Schroeder said.
Josiah and his parents were heading back to Rochester when Caledonia was playing in the state title game on Friday afternoon, and they got a chance to listen to some of the game on the radio. They were thrilled by the outcome of the game, but for Josiah, a bigger thrill was yet to come.
"It was a pretty good cap to our day," Brent Schroeder said. "That's the kind of group these kids are."
The Caledonia players also honored Josiah at the championship game by wearing "JJ" stickers on the back of their helmets.
"I was impressed how these young men, at a high (point) in their life, came to see him, at a low (point)," Kyle Schroeder said. "It was impressive how the two worlds came together."