Batson Children's Hospital patient Jacob Partlow just caught a pass that traveled more than 300 miles to land in his hands.
The pass was thrown after Jeanne Stanford, manager of Fred's Super Dollar in Pulaski, Tenn., watched a video of Jacob's battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in preparation for her store's annual Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) fundraising campaign.
In the video, 14-year-old Jacob mentions being a big fan of Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, who is a Pulaski native. Stanford asked Wallace's parents, whom she sees regularly, for a signed football to send to Jacob. But when Wallace discovered the circumstances, he wanted to do more and arranged to present the football in person.
Friday at Fred's Super Dollar in Canton, a surprised and speechless Jacob received the football from his hero.
"I'm trying not to faint," Jacob joked.
Jacob's mother, Olevia Williams, kept the whole thing a secret from Jacob. She told her son that he would be receiving an autographed football from Wallace, but she didn't tell him that he'd also get to meet him.
"This is pretty special for me," Jacob said, admiring his new football, which he called his most-prized possession.
Jacob Partlow of Jackson holds on to his new autographed football from former Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace. With help from Jacob's mom, Olevia Williams, left, Wallace surprised Jacob with the football Friday afternoon.
"Jacob loves Ole Miss and he's been a fan of Bo's for years," Williams said. "We were at a game once and Jacob was so excited because before the game, Bo walked by and gave Jacob a 'High Five' and he still talks about it."
Wallace said he takes inspiration from kids like Jacob and downplayed his role model status "because you're just a regular person like anybody else."
"But anytime you can make anybody's day better it's exciting and something that you look forward to," he acknowledged.
Jacob served as the 2014 CMNH Champion for the state of Mississippi. He was diagnosed with ALL almost six years ago and is currently in remission.
"He's been through a lot of treatments, but he's always kept a smile on his face and he's always optimistic," Williams said. "We're so thankful that he's now in remission and we really appreciate Bo for taking time out of his schedule to do this for Jacob. It means more than he can ever know."
Fred's annual Miracle Balloons campaign allows shoppers to purchase Miracle Balloons at all Fred's Super Dollar and Fred's Pharmacy locations. Proceeds from the sale of the paper balloons benefit the Children's Miracle Network Hospital in the specific community where the Miracle Balloon is purchased. The Memphis-based retail chain sold balloons in each of its stores, in addition to other fundraising activities such as bake sales, barbecues and raffles over the eight-week fundraising period.