Sask. girl given Riders touchdown ball following battle with cancer
Girl's mom says player didn't know her daughter had been sick
For Paige Hansen, a 12-year-old cancer survivor, CFL football has helped light the road out of a "dark time." On that road, Duron Carter's awe-inspiring, one-handed touchdown catch Saturday added a major landmark.
After the Roughriders' wide receiver reeled in the ball to score against the visiting Toronto Argonauts, he ran across the field to throw it to Hansen, who could hardly believe it.
"I was shaking, and screaming and so excited," said Hansen. "It was honestly amazing."
MUST WATCH: <a href="https://twitter.com/DC_CHILLIN_8">@DC_CHILLIN_8</a> incredible one-handed TD in SLO-MO!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFLGameday?src=hash">#CFLGameday</a> <a href="https://t.co/uBMPX3BjEu">pic.twitter.com/uBMPX3BjEu</a>—@CFL
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Hansen, who is from Sturgis, Saskatchewan, was attending the game with her mom and aunt. The trio brought a sign to "pay tribute to our presidents," said Michelle Hansen, Paige's mother.
Clever sign leads to fateful promise
The sign was a play on the names of Duron Carter, Namaan Roosevelt and Bakari Grant, who all share a last name with former United States presidents.
Carter noticed the sign before the game, and said, "hey, that's awesome," according to Michelle.
He then promised them a touchdown and during the second quarter, he delivered.
In the moment, Michelle said all they were thinking about was the fact that the Roughriders needed the points. But when he started crossing the field toward them, they remembered his promise.
"When he split from the group and ran over to us, he says to my daughter, 'I promised you this ball.' "
"An amazing catch, but an even better release," she said.
After the gesture, she said she was overcome with emotion.
Michelle said she and her daughter had met Carter before but is quite certain he didn't know her daughter's background as a cancer survivor until she tweeted the story after the event.
....and he gave that ball to 12 yr cancer survivor Paige Hansen <a href="https://t.co/TtOaz9TYs9">pic.twitter.com/TtOaz9TYs9</a>—@RiderMommy
Football fuels cancer recovery
Hansen was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 18 months old. She had to undergo treatment for three years because, "she was quite full of cancer," Michelle said.
When she finally finished her treatment, football became a fixture of her post-cancer life.
"We kinda used [football] to cope with it, because it was a pretty dark time for us," Hansen said. "I grew to like it more and more, so I'm pretty close with football."
"I told you so, I told you this was coming," she recalled Carter telling her when he threw her the ball, which he signed after the game.
The ball has taken its place among Hansen's prized possessions. She been sleeping with it to keep it safe, she said, adding that Carter is now her favourite player.
"I'm still in shock," she said. "I keep watching the catch over and over again on TSN."
"It's just crazy."