Chippewa Valley student goes to Super Bowl 50 with Make-A-Wish

By: Thomas Franz | C&G Newspapers | Published February 23, 2016


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Eugene Williams had plenty to be thankful for this past Thanksgiving.

Williams, a 10th-grader at Chippewa Valley High School, had just been told earlier in the month that he was going to the Super Bowl.

Better yet, an MRI later in November showed that he was cancer free after a nearly two-year battle with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a cancer that typically attacks the nose and throat area.

Although he knew he was going to the Super Bowl, a surprise event was held for Williams in his fifth-hour class at Chippewa the week before he went out to California.

A large group of friends and family members surprised him during the class to present him with a football jersey with the number 8,500, indicating that he was the 8,500th Michigan resident to be a recipient of a wish from Make-A-Wish Michigan.

“I was really shocked and overwhelmed,” Williams said of the surprise. “It was really cool to see all of my friends there.”

Williams, who played football growing up, said that he had wanted to attend the Super Bowl for as long as he could remember.

Williams spent a long weekend out in California with his family to attend the big game, as well as do some sightseeing and attend a dinner event with several players from the San Francisco 49ers in attendance. Williams also went to an NFL event where he and his family received autographs from players.

“It was amazing,” said his mother, Eugenia Williams. “It was the first time being in the area, so everything was all a first and a sight to take in.”

For the Williams family, Eugenia said, attending the Super Bowl provided a sense of closure to what her son had gone through.

Williams was diagnosed with cancer in March 2014. After an initial round of chemotherapy, he spent three months in Philadelphia to receive proton therapy.

After treatments seemed to be working effectively, a tumor appeared on his hip in March 2015, which forced him into chemotherapy once again.

In total, Williams went through 39 treatments of radiation, 27 locally and 12 in Philadelphia. He still has to go through checkups regularly, and he currently receives physical therapy to build strength back in his hip, but the MRI in November showed him to be cancer free.

“Just to see the excitement on his face after everything he’s been through and to be able to finally breathe and relax (for) a moment as a family, it was like closure,” Eugenia Williams said. “There’s still more testing, but since everything is good with him, it’s like closure — a wonderful end to a horrible story.”