INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center didn’t just play host to the Colts on Wednesday, but some special guests as well.
The team invited 10 patients from the Riley Hospital for Children and their families to Colts Camp.
"The Colts give me hope," said 15-year-old Sydney Clifford, who has diabetes. "Riley and the Colts put together is the dream team. They're able to support us, and keep giving us inspiration."
One of the kids who stopped by was 11-year-old Oni Davenport. Wednesday was his first day of 6th grade, but his parents allowed him to miss it to take part in the camp.
Oni, who says he's a running back, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 8. It has since been removed and he’s finally healthy enough to hit the football field again.
"It makes me feel stronger," Oni said of his experience meeting his favorite NFL players. "It makes me want to hit harder and win the game, it makes me want to feel great about myself."
"The guys have no idea the impact that they can make on these young people," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of his players. "Bunch of warriors, bunch of fighters, bunch of young people that are dealing with circumstances and going through stuff."
Part of the kids’ VIP visit included a special huddle at the end of practice.
Pagano spotted Oni in the huddle and asked who his favorite player was, to which he responded, "Frank Gore."
The coach then motioned Gore over, and the Pro Bowl running back put his arm around Oni as the players and Riley kids raised fists in the air with Gore counting down and Oni exclaiming, "Colts!"
And these Riley patients say there's added inspiration in knowing what Pagano overcame with his cancer battle and how he can relate to the challenges they are facing.
"It's amazing how if he can do it every body else can do it," Oni said of Pagano. "If a coach can have cancer and come back and do a great job it's amazing. It inspires little kids everywhere."
"It's experiences like this that keep our hopes up," Oni's mom Kim said of the experience. "For him to come out here and be with the Colts, it's just a dream realized."