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‘It makes everything else easier’: Community rallies to give 8-year-old with cancer game of his life

CHARLTON, Mass. — Eight-year-old AJ Congdon, of the Charlton Dudley Rams football team, scored a touchdown on Sunday with the help of his teammates and coaches who pushed his wheelchair across the goal line.

“We ran him all the way down from the 50-yard line for a touchdown. He was smiling ear to ear, he was so happy,” said Head Coach Tim Ballou.

The idea to push AJ across the field came from the Leicester Spencer football coach. But everyone was happy to help the young boy diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor last month.

AJ says he will never forget this day.

‘It went down good,” said AJ.

At Wednesday’s practice his teammates cheered for him chanting his name, “AJ, AJ, AJ!” And it’s the support from his teammates on the Charlton Dudley football team that keeps him smiling.

AJ is now confined to a wheelchair after his diagnosis and is being treated with radiation five days a week at a Boston Hospital. His mother says it’s been a difficult few weeks.

“There’s tough days but having people to lean on, great people to always be there and put smiles on your kids faces is great to see,” said AJ’s mother, Jamie Congdon.

She tells Boston 25 that when the season started in late August AJ was fine but his coordination declined rapidly.

On September 28 he was rushed to the ER. The diagnosis came only a day later. His doctor’s say he has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma or DIPG, which is an aggressive form of childhood cancer. The tumor is on his brain stem and it impacts AJ’s ability to speak and walk.

But the support of his teammates is what keeps AJ and his family going.

“Laughing and giving fist pumps to everyone, it makes everything else a little easier,” said Jamie.

And despite the tough battle ahead his family is staying positive.

“It’s ok… I mean it’s tough but we’ll make it through… right,” said AJ’s older sister, Bella Congdon.

AJ loves the game of football. And getting to play Sunday, sporting his game jersey #73, is a memory that will help keep this 8-year-old strong for the battle ahead.

This is AJ’s first full week of radiation treatment out of six but that’s not stopping him. He went back to school on Monday and he’s hoping for his first full day of school on Thursday.

The community set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical and transportation costs for AJ’s family.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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