Teen battling lymphoma inspires Giants’ win
When you are 15 years old and battling a severe illness, sometimes all you want is a little hope. That’s exactly what Adam Merchant wanted when he gave the New York Giants a pep talk after Friday’s practice.
Adam is battling Burkitt’s Lymphoma which is an endemic disease in central Africa but sporadically appears in other countries. It is one of the most rapidly growing forms of human cancer.
Make-a-Wish gave Adam the chance to attend practice with the Giants, and Coach Tom Coughlin gave him one big task for the night: giving the last few words before the big Sunday night game.
“Play like the world champions you are,” Adam told them. Adam was getting emotional during practice, as would anyone watching their heroes.
“It can be kind of nerve-racking to come talk to your favorite team,” Eli Manning said.
Adam has had anything but an easy battle with the disease. Luckily his lymphoma is in remission. After going through a difficult and life-threatening experience like cancer, Adam said he learned never to hold back, and that certainly held true for him in the Giants’ locker room.
“It just came out,” Merchant said of his speech.
Adam’s story and pep talk inspired the players to play their best.
“Certain people can say that,” defensive lineman Justin Tuck said later, “but when you see this innocent kid say you’ve got to play like a champion … I told him he needs to get into motivational speaking because he inspired us.”
Justin Tuck wasn’t the only one inspired by Adam.
“You look at this kid, who’s going through so much in his life, and his one wish is come and be with us?” Victor Cruz said. “It was inspiring.”
“I think Adam got everybody fired up,” Manning said.
It was certainly obvious on the field that something was different with these Giants. They knew it was going to be a tough game against the Green Bay Packers, and they seemed to have used Adam’s words to push through and win the game.
When the game was over, the team brought Adam to the locker room and told him their happiness and celebration was because of him. Their win, they told him, was his influence.
Make-a-Wish not only made Adam’s dream come true, but it also helped the Giants win on Sunday night.
“It was awesome,” Adam said. “It was a dream come true.”