FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Usually following an NFL game, dozens if not hundreds of fans will line-up outside MetLife Stadium for a chance to meet a player and grab a photo. For New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis, he'll wade through the throngs hoping to find one man: Louie Gonzalez.
The story of Gonzalez has become well-known over the past several months. A former resident of New York City who now lives in Florida, Gonzalez is a lifelong Jets fan who suffers from a rare brain disorder. Over the course of the past dozen years he was once pronounced dead at a hospital then later told that a surgery to save his life would leave him in a vegetative state. A subsequent surgery was declared as one that would forever leave him in a wheelchair.
Each time he defied odds and now Gonzalez walks on his own, talks and leads an active lifestyle with his wife and their three children. Two months ago, a fan movement online attempted to raise money to send him and his family to the Jets home opener, a special thrill as he's never been to MetLife Stadium. The movement raised over $6,000 which will cover airfare as well as hotel lodging for the five members of the family.
Davis said he read about Gonzalez's story on Facebook and he pledged to get tickets for the entire family.
“I felt compelled to do something. Here was a real passionate Jets fan who was dying who fought back and is now living a life with his wife and kids. I wanted to help make a way to help him enjoy this,” Davis told Metro.
“Anybody who reads his story will be impacted by his life. I was someone who saw it and was impacted by it and I wanted to do something on my behalf. Anyone who sees it will be compelled to do something. When the fans saw it, the response was great. I was able to come alongside and do something for him, bless him as he's blessed us.”
The tickets will be sideline passes, he says, as well as a parking pass will be included. Everything will be paid for out of his pocket. He isn't asking the Jets to cover the bill or give him free tickets.
You see, he wants to be a part of what he calls a “blessing.”
“The fans paid the money to fly him up. The fans did more than I did, they are flying him up and getting him the hotel. It's amazing, makes you want to play harder,” Davis said.
There will be a party on Saturday night at a restaurant for Gonzalez, hosted by the Jets fans who helped put together this fundraiser. Davis will try to attend but the team will already be at the hotel they stay at before all home games and he may not be able to make it.
If he can't make it out to the event he will meet the whole family after the game.
“Just hug his wife, hug his kids, hug him. He'll be blessed by so many people that day like we've all been blessed by hearing his story. He never quit, he never quit on life,” Davis said.
“I can't wait to form a relationship with him, face-to-face. We've chatted on social media but that would be special. I can't wait to give him a big old hug. He's fought to be here. God has been good to him and he, in turn, has been faithful.”