8-Year-Old Cancer Patient Gets a Big Surprise at School


One brave second-grader got to have their own game day experience as they battle an opponent that you won’t find on any field.

Hayden Hughes, 8, was greeted once he arrived at Washington Lands elementary school in Marshall County Friday, but not from someone he was expecting. The greeting came all the way from Morgantown for a special visit for an especially brave and strong kid.

Hayden is a second-grader battling stage three cancer, more specifically a Wilms’ tumor.
WVU learned of Hayden’s illness from the teacher he had last year, Mrs.Wilkinson; so the University decided to send in the Mountaineer for a special surprise.

Michael Garcia, the WVU Mountaineer entered the gym and told the entire student body why he was at their school, “One reason and one person that is the reason that I’m here today, so later today when you see him, I want you to thank him, “and with that announcement, the shy, yet brave little warrior of honor stood up and was presented an autographed mountaineer football .

Hayden also got six tickets to a game on October 10, a private tour around the Milan Puskar Stadium, and more, “We’re so shocked. You don’t realize how great the state we live in and the people around us are until something like this happens. We can’t thank people enough,” was how his mom, Samantha Hughes, reacted to the celebration for her courageous son.

Hayden was diagnosed with the Wilms’ tumor after waiting two weeks for lab results to come back. The longest two weeks of his families lives, before that; Hayden had been at some sports practices, having fun as any other kid, but a couple days later things were different, “He’s been fighting it ever since, got his kidney removed and the tumor and been undergoing chemo and radiation and he’s actually doing well, he’s doing better than anyone could expect, I mean he’s a tough kid,” said Hayden’s Dad, Tyler Hughes.

Throughout it all, he’s remained pretty shy, but proudly hoisted his new football in the air in front of all of his classmates.

Tate asked Hayden, “Are you excited that you and your family get to go down to a WVU game?” He quietly shook his head yes, while holding his new football, signed by Coach Dana Holgorsen.

Hayden’s parents are optimistic. The  Wilms’ tumor has a 95 percent survival rate. His last treatment should be in December, as long as he doesn’t get any other illnesses along the way.

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