This story was originally published by Allison Hayes on ABC57 News website on October 21, 2017.
Notre Dame’s football players are big men on campus, but they also give back to their community. One player made a special connection with a young boy who is battling multiple life-threatening diseases.
Adler Carris is an active, fun loving 8 year boy who loves super heroes and stuffed animals.
“He appreciates things in a way that even adults don’t understand because he’s been to that other side, he’s been to the dark side if you will,” Adler’s mom, Elizabeth Carris, said.
When Adler was 4 years old the Carris family learned Adler had 3 life threatening diseases.
“He has pilomyxoid brain cancer. He also has hydrocephalus, which is water on the brain. He also has adrenal insufficiency,” Elizabeth said.
The diagnosis was devastating.
“It was like a gut punch. You get completely knocked out,” Elizabeth said.
It never diminished Adler’s spirit.
Adler has inoperable brain tumors at the base of his cervical and lower lumbar spine and the base of his skull.
After two years of intense chemo, radiation, and MRI’s, Adler has turned the corner.
“It is stable. No new growth for two years. We’re in a golden place so we like it. They say they’re going to make him an old man with tumors and I’m cool with that,” Elizabeth said.
As Adler gets stronger, he enjoys playing sports again.
“I just want to go bowling again today. I like bowling it’s fun,” Adler said.
This summer, Adler hit the lanes for a special opportunity to play with the Notre Dame football team.
The Uplifting Athletes program brought Irish football players together with children battling rare diseases. That’s when Adler made a new friend.
Irish wide receiver Austin Webster and Adler hit it off immediately.
“It was fun and we didn’t know this, when we got home we looked up Austin. He is one of the captains of the Notre Dame football team, we did not know that. And we were very surprised. And my mom and dad were like ‘We actually played bowling with one of the captains of the football team.’ I mean like they were pretty excited. I was kind of surprised, he’s a guy, he was happy and yeah he was cool and we didn’t know that. We wouldn’t think it would be him, we didn’t think so but we actually did though,” Adler said.
“First of all, he’s a great dancer. He started off, he just dances for ages and he loves to dance,” Webster said.
“That was Adler’s way of getting through chemo. That kid danced through chemo. You’ve got to see some dance moves because he’s pretty good,” Elizabeth said.
A couple of hours on a summer afternoon made a lasting impression.
“It’s just really love. They really take time out of their world to spend time with our kids. And that’s great because it means something, it shows something to our kids. Look this is something you can do. This is what these kids do. And they’re champions, they’re all champions. So it gives hope to our kids, too,” Elizabeth said.
But the kids gave hope to the players, too
“His mom was kind of telling me kind of the things he has had to and probably will have to continue to go through and the mere fact that a kid has gone through what he’s gone through and is still happy and still just still has a smile on his face, is truly inspirational. And the mere fact that he was having a good time, just made my day, because the stuff he has had to go through I can only imagine has been really difficult for him and his parents,” Webster said.
Adler is also a member of the Fighting Irish Fight for Life program that pairs children battling life threatening illnesses with various Notre Dame athletics programs.