Recently, ESPN followed senior linebacker Keith Kelsey visiting a long-time Louisville fan currently battling cancer.
As Louisville continues to fight for dominance on the field, one of the its fans fights a different kind of battle. Air Force veteran and long-time Cardinals fan Don Wheatley has been battling an aggressive form of blood cancer since 2015. However, since the start of this season, his condition worsened.
The team chaplain received an email notifying him of Wheatley’s condition, and he asked Kelsey to speak to him on the phone before the Syracuse game.
“It was exciting,” said Wheatley to ESPN. “It just makes you feel better.”Kelsey, during this conversation, vowed to play the game for Wheatley, and during the game, Kelsey led the team in tackles and tallied a forced fumble and a sack against Syracuse.
After the game, Kelsey asked to visit Wheatley, so during his off-day, he traveled to the University of Louisville Hospital, a tradition he has continued every Monday.
Wheatley now compares his relationship with Kelsey to that of a father and son. And, as the Cardinals’ prepare to take on its second top-five opponent this season, Kelsey steps onto the field continuing to play for his new friend that continues to fight in the hospital.