Seven-year-old Parker Cowherd and his family had just been through a lot. It was November 2015 and he had been diagnosed with a rare form of brain and spinal cancer. Soon after, he underwent surgery and began chemotherapy. Then Make-A-Wish® Central & Western North Carolina got involved.
“Make-A-Wish reached out to us and asked what his wish would be,” said his mother, Allison. “We knew from the start it was going to be something with the Panthers.”
On May 31, 2016, Parker’s wish to play football with the Panthers became a reality.
First, he was introduced to the players and coaches at the morning team meeting. “Seeing him walk into the team meeting – all the players cheering and clapping for him – he was pretty star struck during that moment, but it was really great to see the guys so into this as well,” Allison said.
Then Parker went up to the football offices to sign his contract (and receive his candy compensation). Next up was a trip to the equipment room to get his practice gear.
Greg Olsen took over from there. He showed Parker around the locker room, and Parker helped him get ready for the OTA session. “These are special kids. They have such an unbelievable outlook on life,” Olsen said. “It puts a lot of things in perspective. I was really fortunate to spend the day with Parker.”
They walked onto the practice field side by side, with Parker sporting his own 88 jersey.
During practice, Parker shadowed the tight ends and even offered Olsen some advice.
“Every time I turned around, there he was standing right with our group,” Olsen said. “He told me one time to get my pads down.”
Parker was given the honor of breaking the team down at the end of practice. He and his family then walked off the field, along the path that takes you past the bold “Keep Pounding” signage. It’s the Panthers’ motto. It’s the Cowherds’, too.
“It’s just what we say around our house now,” Allison said. “We say, ‘Keep faith, keep hope, keep together, keep pounding.'”
Click here to see Parker’s wish come true!