The Gilbert Dawgs, with the help of defensive end, Patrick, became state champions this year. They even made it all the way to the national championships. The team even raised enough money – $60,000 – to travel and compete in the nationals in Florida in December and returned as 4th place national champions.

The accomplishments are more noteworthy because of Patrick’s accident in December 2015.

The 12-year-old, football-loving boy from Gilbert was riding his scooter then when he fell, hitting his head on the sidewalk. After getting stitched up, he received a CT scan where doctors found a large mass on his temporal lobe. Being a gifted student, Patrick was afraid to have the tumor removed from a crucial part of his brain.

Neurosurgeon Ruth Bristol of Phoenix Children’s Hospital put the family’s worries at ease. She met with them in early January and performed surgery to remove Patrick’s tumor in March. And following a fairly difficult recovery, Patrick was back up and running, cleared for all activities, by June.

After seeing their child in such a fragile state, Patrick’s parents debated allowing him to return to his beloved youth football team, the Gilbert Dawgs. Ultimately, his parents decided they can’t keep him in a bubble forever, and allowed Patrick to rejoin his friends on the team this fall.