Growing up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Chance Boudreaux doesn’t remember how he became a Colts fan. All he remembers is being one.
“All I know is I’ve been a Colts fan.”
His cousin, Jacob Dugas, played a major role.
“Growing up, I watched the Colts because of Peyton Manning being a guy from Louisiana,” he said. “I saw this guy, Louisiana born and bred, and everything that I ever read or heard - he was always prepared, always worked hard, watched film, just studied, studied, studied. And it always paid off.”
But it wasn’t just Peyton.
“At that time, Reggie Wayne had gone to high school in Louisiana, Anthony (Booger) McFarland played at LSU – for whatever reason, we had all these Louisiana connections.”
The Colts were like their NFL team from Louisiana.
“Obviously, we watched the Saints too, but every chance I got, I watched the Colts.”
And while he watched the Colts, someone else was watching him.
“For years, it was just me. Chance was getting older and one day I saw him with a Colts hat or a Colts shirt and I said, ‘Whatcha doin there, buddy?’ He goes, ‘Watching Peyton.’”
He was no longer alone.
When Andrew Luck came along, they were just as excited.
Now a senior in high school, Chance started having some issues with his leg.
“I remember walking around school, going up and down stairs at our high school – it would be hurting my leg a lot,” he said.
The first few doctors brushed it off as a muscular issue. But it kept getting worse.
“They ended up sending us to Houston to make sure it wasn’t cancer. I did a bone marrow test. I remember waking up in the hospital bed after the tests in the cancer center and I remember seeing Mom crying,” he said. “That’s when they said I had cancer.”
Diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 18 years old, Chance had to go back and forth to Houston, three hours each way, to get monthly chemotherapy treatments.
And just like Chance stood by Jacob on his Colts journey, Jacob stood by Chance on his cancer journey.
“I remember hearing my mom say, ‘Chance is having a hard week.’ And I would call him,” Jacob said. “I didn’t want to talk about cancer. That’s what they would tell me, ‘Just talk to him about football.’ We would talk about Andrew’s injury, actually.”
As Andrew Luck fought through shoulder surgery and physical therapy, he inspired Chance as he fought through cancer and chemotherapy.
They were making their comebacks together.
When Make-A-Wish heard about Chance and his story, they reached out to him and his family. When they asked him for his wish, it didn’t take him long to decide.
“It was that day I decided. I was like, ‘I want to meet the Colts.’”
And when he found out his wish was about to come true, he knew who he had to take with him.
“I remember him calling me and I was at a conference. I was like, ‘Is he ok?’ This is a weird time. Normally, he’ll call me at night, but it was during the day,” Jacob said. “You know how you can hear someone smiling? I’m going, ‘It’s ok. He’s ok. What’s up, Chance?’ He goes, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m at work.’ He said, ‘You want to go to a Colts game with me?’ I said, ‘Sure. When?’ He goes, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘Just let me know how much.’ He goes, ‘No. Make-A-Wish is taking us.’ I’m like, ‘What?’”
On Friday, September 28th, Chance, his mother, Deleen, his sister, Carley, and his cousin, Jacob, arrived at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
They got a tour of the facility, had lunch where the players eat, and watched practice.
General Manager Chris Ballard spent time with them. And when practice was over, Coach Frank Reich invited Chance into the huddle to break it down. Afterwards, he chatted with the players as they autographed his football and took pictures with him and his family.
He and Andrew Luck talked about their recoveries and how much they learned about themselves in the process.
After a tough year, it was a blessing and a dream come true.
“I said I wasn’t going to cry, but I knew I would,” said Deleen. “He deserved it. You’re happy to see your child so happy.”
The Colts granted the wish of 19-year-old Chance Boudreaux, a sophomore student and member of the band at McNeese State, on Friday, September 28. Chance battles Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which is a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. His heartfelt wish was to meet his favorite football team, the Indianapolis Colts.
Later that afternoon, they took a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium and took pictures with the statue of the guy who made them Colts fans.
“I didn’t expect all of this,” Chance said. “We’d have been happy just to go to a game in the stadium.”
They did that too.
On Sunday, they went down on the field to watch the Colts warm up before cheering them on against the Houston Texans.
For Chance and his family, it was a once in a lifetime experience.
“We were excited just to be in a town full of Colts fans.”
And when he returned to Louisiana, he brought a few more Colts fans back with him.