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Pee Wee Football Team Has Special Celebration For Teammate With Cancer

By Jeff Todd

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) - Despite winning a state championship, a Pee Wee football team from Fort Collins had more fun celebrating afterwards with a teammate who wasn't able to make the game.

"Being able to bring these boys after a great football win, but to come here and see their friend, see their teammate and focus on what's really important is the biggest thing for these boys," said Dan Cover, head coach of the Northern Colorado Outlaws.

(credit: CBS)

The team got a chance to meet with 11-year-old Jackson Simpson who started chemotherapy for a malignant tumor the size of a softball in his chest.

"They did an X-ray and found out he'd been operating on one lung for probably two to three weeks," said Jackson's dad Jim Simpson.

The team found out about Jacksons illness on Tuesday before practice.

Jackson Simpson (credit: CBS)

"To see these young men deal with the emotions that they shouldn't have to deal with at this age. Just hearing their conversations and how they act with each other and building each other up and then they made a video for him at the end of practice that was upbeat and positive because that's what we talk about.," Cover said.

Win or lose, a parent of a player on the team organized a meeting at Children's Hospital in Aurora after the game. The plan was to cheer loudly so Jackson could hear them in his room. But Jackson was feeling well enough to actually leave the hospital and visit with his friends.

(credit: CBS)

"The beautiful blessing about this is, they didn't think they'd get to see him. We thought he would be upstairs in the hospital watching from the window," said Cover.

On Saturday the Outlaws won 31-0 to win the Colorado Pop Warner Pee Wee Division II. They play a team from Arlington, Texas in Colorado Springs next Saturday.

Jackson Simpson with his team at the hospital (credit: CBS)

"He's an amazing kid, super strong," said Jim Simpson. "The treatment path is probably going to be around two years total, off and on, with the most intense on the front end here."

The team hopes to march on in the playoffs saying "This one is for Jackson."

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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