With chemotherapy treatments every four weeks, spinal chemotherapy treatments every three months, and a chemotherapy pill every night, 5-year-old Zach Dacy doesn’t have a lot to look forward to. But the one thing that his leukemia hasn’t taken from him is his love for football. Last month, Zach got to live out his gridiron fantasy by sacking Northern Illinois University (NIU) quarterback Jordan Lynch.
“To see [the team] and how they’re interacting, I know they’re young kids. Them taking the time...they wanted to do it,” Zach’s mother, Jen Dacy, told Huskie Wire. “It’s not liked they looked like, ‘Oh great. We’ve got to do this.’ They we’re excited to do it, and that meant a lot.”
Jen and her husband, Joe Dacy, are both NIU alumni who were interested in taking Zach and his 7-year-old brother Coen to a football game this season. After contacting the university’s athletic department, assistant athletic director of development Kyle Skarb offered the family tickets to the season opener against Eastern Illinois as well as an invitation to one of the team’s practices.
Out of all the players in the NFL, Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers is by far Zach’s favorite. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he got the chance to meet Matthews as well as quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Matthews, a four-time Pro Bowler, must’ve imparted some of his tackling knowledge on Zach because he was most certainly ready for his big play.
At the end of NIU’s Sept. 19 practice, head coach Rod Carey called the team in for one last drill. Without hesitation, Zach fired out of his three-point stance, eluded NIU’s offensive line, and dropped 6-foot 216-lb. Lynch for about an 8-yard loss.
“He’s going through a lot right now, I think that’s the least we could do,” Lynch told Huskie Wire. “We made his day and he gave me a pretty good shot.”
After his bone-crushing hit, the rest of the team hoisted Zach on their shoulders and congratulated him on his first career sack. On that day, Zach’s leukemia meant nothing to him.