Gary Degen, an assistant videographer for the Trinity High School football team, recently entered an NFL.com contest to win a trip to the Super Bowl. He filmed a brief video of himself, telling the story of how football and family had helped him push forward after he had been diagnosed with cancer.
He knew he was one of 10 finalists to win the contest, so when the NFL contacted him recently and said it wanted to shoot one more video of the finalists, he didn’t think much of it. Then he went home and saw NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long standing in the living room. He was there to tell Degen he was headed to the Super Bowl.
“It’s just amazing,” Degen said. “We just want to soak it all in.”
This week Degen is in New York with his two sons, Isaiah and Tristan, and he plans to enjoy every moment. He said he will be on the field before and after the game, and he was scheduled to attend the NFL’s awards show at Radio City Music Hall.
Degen, a podiatrist, was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in December 2012, and one doctor said he had 12-14 months to live. But through aggressive radiation treatments, Degen’s prostate surface antigen levels have plummeted, and he believes he is on the way to a full recovery.
He has been humbled by the outpouring of support in the Trinity community since his diagnosis, and he said the school’s push was instrumental in getting him enough votes to win this contest.
“Football is a family,” Degen said, “and it really extends beyond the field.”
— Adam Himmelsbach