Jim Kelly Inspired by Young Fan's Attitude Through Adversity
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Ian Cameron is a big-time Bills fan, and the 8th grader from Grand Island was all smiles Tuesday while hanging out at New Era Field with Bills legend Jim Kelly.
"He was the best quarterback in the world for the NFL, instead of Tom Brady," the 13-year-old said, only half-joking.
Ian has more in common with the Hall-of-Fame quarterback than just his devotion to the Bills. He is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair to move around, the result of a cancer diagnosis when he was only 10 months old.
"Tough times can really bring you down," said Dona Cameron, Ian's mother. "It's hard to see the other side sometimes. You've got to keep positive that eventually things will go back to normal, or you find your new normal."
After surgery and treatment, Ian is currently cancer-free. Through Camp Good Days, he had the chance to spend time with Kelly, who's dealt with his own battle with cancer, and lost his son Hunter to a childhood disease.
"When I see young kids like that, it brings back memories of my son and the things that he wasn't able to do, and the things that I would've loved to have done with him, whether he was in a wheelchair or completely healthy," Kelly said.
Kelly took Ian on a tour of the Bills facilities during his 30th annual youth football camp. The first stop was the weight room, where met head coach Sean McDermott. The trip continued into the Bills locker room to see the digs of his current favorite player, Marcell Dareus.
And they finished it up with a ride into the stadium, where Kelly's play inspired so many over the years. Now, No. 12 is drawing his own inspiration from a boy who wasn't even born when he wore the uniform.
"His attitude is so impressive," Kelly said, after pushing Ian's wheelchair through the fieldhouse while the boy pretended he was driving a racecar. "When we were going through locker room and him shifting gears, I was sweating. But I was sweating fun sweat. It was so much fun."
And Ian is left with a memory to last a lifetime, and quite a story to tell about his day with one of the best players in NFL history.
"[It was] amazing because I went to see the locker room, got a new hat, and I did some NASCAR sounds with Jim Kelly. It was really fun," Ian said. "He's like a hero to me, because he's like my guardian angel."