Louie Gonzalez is making his return to MetLife Stadium this weekend, the New York Jets supporter once declared legally dead is continuing to be an inspiration to the team and its fanbase.
The story of Gonzalez emerged last year when NYJetsFans.com, the same people behind the ‘Fire John Idzik’ movement as well as the banner that flew over a New England Patriots practice last year, did online fundraising to send this long-time fan to the Jets home opener a season ago. His gripping story of survival against all odds led to an outpouring of love from not just fans but from the Jets organization as well.
In 2002, Gonzalez was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus - a disorder where fluid accumulates in the brain. He has had multiple strokes, been in several comas including one that was months-long and once during a surgery to save his life, Gonzalez was declared dead by the doctors in attendance. He was supposed to be confined to a wheelchair for life but he credits God with letting him walk and play with his children today.
Last year’s fundraiser was a success, with Jets fans raising several thousand dollars to purchase Gonzalez plane tickets for his entire family to fly from Florida to see his team play. Former Jets linebacker Demario Davis obtained sideline passes after learning about Gonzalez’s faith and miraculous story. A party was held by fans the day before the season opener to welcome Gonzalez.
Gonzalez grew up in the tristate area but now lives in south Florida. He never saw the Jets play at MetLife Stadium until the season opener in 2015.
Now this year the Jets are at it again. Last week, team president Neil Glat sent Gonzalez sideline passes for this Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Glat had learned that Gonzalez was flying up to see the game and rather than see a dedicated fan stuck in the nosebleeds, he instead was given the hook-up.
Glat has been a champion of Gonzalez’s cause and often wears a green and white ‘Team Louie’ bracelet.
“I'm OK, I have some episodes where I have headaches but the doctors tell me it's from scar tissue in my head. My VP (ventriculoperitoneal) shunt has made my brain ventricles normal now,” Gonzalez told Metro.
“What I do now is spread my testimony around where ever I go, giving faith and hope. I tell people who healed me - our Heavenly Father.”
Gonzalez along with his wife will be picked up at the airport by Jason Koeppel, the founder of NYJetsFans.com. Husband and wife will spend the weekend at Koeppel’s house before returning to Florida.