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Penn State Football Invites 9-Year-Old Cancer Patient To Practice

Penn State football hosted its 2019 honorary signee, Sawyer Bell, for a day of practice just ahead of its spring practice event Friday.

Bell is a 9-year-old cancer patient who has now connected twice with Team IMPACT, a nonprofit that works to connect children facing life-threatening illnesses with college athletic teams. On National Signing Day in 2019, Penn State signed then-7-year-old Bell to an honorary contract to officially make him one of the 28 members of the 2020 recruiting class.

This year, Bell spent time with James Franklin, received autographs from the team, and even beat Journey Brown in a round of Madden.

“Thanks to our main man, Sawyer, for stopping by practice and breaking us down!” Penn State football players said in a tweet. “Oh, and he also secured the Madden win over JB!”

Bell was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a highly dangerous form of cancer that affects skeletal muscle cells. He’s one of the hundreds of children who have received once-in-a-lifetime opportunities from Team IMPACT since the late 1960s.

Team Impact and the Nittany Lions have had a strong relationship for years. In 2018, for example, Penn State softball signed Aunnah Nagel, a then-14-year-old battling neurofibromatosis, to the team.

Additionally, Penn State football has had its share of wholesome experiences this week. James Franklin wished a 100-year-old superfan a happy birthday over FaceTime this past weekend.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a senior biology major from York, Pa, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to For the hijinks, always.

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