Father of Riley patient shares perspective on Luck retirement: ‘It’s just a game’

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WHITELAND, Ind. — The game of football is a powerful thing. Besides the impact on the field, the impact off it can hit just as hard.

“That was a bad day there,” said Joshua Mitchell as he scrolled through old pictures on his phone. “That’s the day we left and went to the Ronald McDonald house.”

Mitchell doesn’t need these pictures to remember the spring and summer of 2013. That’s when his then 3-year-old son Kolton spent six months inside Riley Hospital for Children.

“Very, very challenging,” Mitchell said.

Kolton was fighting a rare, life-threatening disease affecting his immune system. Every night, his family was there fighting.

“You’ve got machines and monitors beeping all night, nurses coming in all night checking vitals, giving medications… It’s 24 hours, seven days a week,” Mitchell said.

This cycle repeated for months, but it took just minutes for a special visitor to change it up.

“I remember that door opening and him walking in there. I could just hear him yelling, ‘It’s Andrew Luck! Andrew Luck!'” Mitchell recalled.

The Colts new star quarterback was fresh off his rookie season, and was now walking down Kolton’s hallway. When he walked into Kolton’s room, he brought with him an excitement that hadn’t been felt in months,

“It just takes your mind off it, for just a minute,” said Kolton’s mother, Tiffany Mitchell. “You see them on the TV playing but when they’re actually in there… I mean, they’re real people just like us.”

When the Mitchell family watched this scene unfold on Saturday and heard the boos raining down from fans, they felt their story needed to be shared. And apparently, more than 2,000 others on facebook agreed.

“For him to stop in when he could’ve been doing a million other things, that kinda hit with me,” Joshua said. “And it still kind of does to this day.”

Six years after his stay at Riley, Kolton is now a healthy 9-year-old boy. He’s still staying strong, and still wearing his Andrew Luck jersey. Sometimes the game’s most powerful moments happen beyond the white lines.

“It’s sports, it’s just a game,” Joshua said. “It’s not that big of a deal, it’s really not.”

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