LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville cancer survivor who's also a proud Trinity football dad is getting national attention. Gary Degen took part in a National Football League contest and from thousands of entries, he's one of ten finalists.
Degen saw the contest on NFL.com to win tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl. He held up his cell phone and shot a one minute video about what football means to him. Soon, a NFL film crew was at Trinity High School telling his story that's about much more than a game.
Degen volunteers as a videographer for the Trinity football team and loves going over his game tape with Trinity Video Coordinator Coach Lee Handel. But it's a new film about Gary and his 14 and 17-year-old sons that shows how quickly the game changes that has Rocks fans cheering.
It's been one year since Degen took the hit of his life, not while filming from the sidelines, but while the podiatrist was sitting in another doctor's office. Degen remembered the doctor's words, "He says, you got a bad one and you got a fight ahead of you."
Degen had prostate cancer, then surgery and after a series of tests that showed the cancer spread to his spine. The prognosis? "Statistically, you've got 12 to 14 months to live," Degen recalled.
No matter how sick Degen got, he still took part in sons Tristan and Isaiah's workouts. In the NFL Films story Gary explained, "The dedication toward football led both of my boys down a path of commitment." He wife Barbara said of her husband, "He's walking all over, he's not even supposed to be out of bed, he's got a catheter in," she said, "Gary is an encourager and if you look up that word, it means to pour courage into someone else."
She contends it's all about creating memories. Degen shared those memories in an NFL contest to win Super Bowl tickets. Son Tristan said of their time together, "It made him stop thinking about having cancer and I think he was able to block it out for a little bit while we were together working out."
Barbara Degen, an ER nurse, got out her playbook. She began researching new treatments and a Norton Cancer Institute doctor who gave a speech that would make Vince Lombardi proud. "I believe I can get this," Gary Degen quoted the doctor, "And I can get this in one shot and if you'll give me a shot were going to try."
While Degen is still fighting, his body has responded extremely well to treatment.
While we were in the film room another Trinity coach walked in and went straight for Degen wishing him a Merry Christmas.
Degen said the Trinity support has been his real medicine.
"People I don't know are praying for me and are asking me what's going on? What can we do?" he said, "Regardless of the story, the story is this is a family based on faith, family and football this is my family."
That's why Gary Degen loves football.
It's easy to see why the Louisvillian was chosen out of so many entries as a finalist. You can vote for him on NFL.com. If he wins, he gets three tickets to the Super Bowl.
Barbara Degen joked she might be willing to let the guys go if she gets a vacation in return.
Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:06 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:06:24 GMT
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