11:29 pm - 08/04/2013

Carolina Panthers make child with terminal illness coach for a day; Cam Newton gets his autograph

After being hired as an honorary coach for the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, 8-year-old Jack Bolton was at a loss for words.

That's not to say that Coach Bolton was speechless.

In preparation for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Panthers turning his dream into a reality, Bolton penned a pregame speech to share with the team. But after the overwhelming experience of signing his contract, getting his gear and then spending time with his heroes in the locker room prior to Fan Fest, he couldn't bring himself to deliver his inspiring words.

Still, his mere presence inspired the Panthers even before head coach Ron Rivera stepped in and read Bolton's speech.

"He was a little too nervous to read it, but when Coach Rivera read it, hearing the response of the team was pretty awesome," said Jack's mother, Holly. "He's such a huge Panthers fan. He keeps up with everything they're doing."

After taking the field through the players' tunnel with Rivera at his side, Coach Bolton literally kept up with what his favorite team was doing, keeping stats on the sideline while keeping his whistle and challenge flag at the ready. In between his coaching duties, he collected autographs, memorabilia and most memorably hugs, handshakes and high-fives.

By the end of practice, Bolton had become so popular that his favorite player, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, knelt down and asked Bolton for his autograph.

"It's a pretty special day," said Jack's father, John. "The dimensions of this wish just go on and on. Just to be in the stadium was super-special, but this is unbelievable. I don't know how they pulled it together."

Coach Bolton knows that football teams face obstacles all the time, and his personal obstacle is one he tries to tackle head-on every day. Bolton has spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that severely impacts his mobility and respiratory health.

His parents are both carriers of the disease, meaning there's a one-in-four chance that each of their offspring will contract the disease. Coach Bolton's older sister, Eleanor, was diagnosed with the disease at age 2, about a month before he was born with it.

The long-term prognosis for the siblings steadily improves each year.

"There's no cure yet, but it's coming," John Bolton said. "We will have it in our lifetime no doubt because they've regenerated what they're missing. Now it's a matter delivering the cells to the body.

"We're very optimistic that even if the cure isn't here for a while that they'll be fine."

Coach Bolton has loved football his whole life, but because of his physical challenges, he had to find a different way of getting into the game.

"He's been coaching his friends at recess for several years, lining them up and calling plays," Holly Bolton said. "He's very interested in coaching, so when he got to make a wish, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted to coach the Panthers."

cr: panthers
i'm not really a panthers fan but i really want to see them succeed this year (bc cam newton). HTTR sisters and my soft spot for the eagles continues

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faister 5th-Aug-2013 04:42 am (UTC)
you can't mention cam without a picture of cam

ctfobro 5th-Aug-2013 04:46 am (UTC)
o hi papi
guavapussy 5th-Aug-2013 04:48 am (UTC)
zbornie 5th-Aug-2013 06:29 am (UTC)
Do you know what this is from?
sunsettwist 5th-Aug-2013 04:50 am (UTC)
squirrelsarerad 5th-Aug-2013 04:50 am (UTC)
well well well

he's quite the cutie
mirandagirll 5th-Aug-2013 05:02 am (UTC)
The reason I was an Auburn fan for a year tbh
mollysdevice 5th-Aug-2013 05:13 am (UTC)

Hello there handsome.
leasheinyoface 5th-Aug-2013 06:04 am (UTC)
mmmmmmm hello
chasind01 5th-Aug-2013 06:54 am (UTC)
I find that type of chin so unattractive. All I can think of when I see it is a cartoon witch.
pkbitchgirl 5th-Aug-2013 11:12 am (UTC)
No idea who this guy is, but me gusta
365reasonswhy 5th-Aug-2013 04:47 am (UTC)
I fucking love Cam Newton. Everyone I know who's met him on campus says he's really a nice guy and appreciative of the love he gets there. I like that he came back to school when everyone said he'd be done after the draft and never set foot on campus again.

He better never do any disappointing shit.
isntdaveone 5th-Aug-2013 04:49 am (UTC)
i want Cam Newton to fuck me.

fight4thislove 5th-Aug-2013 04:50 am (UTC)
but who don't you want to fuck you anally?
grande_latte 5th-Aug-2013 04:51 am (UTC)
don Francisco.
wonderwomanhero 5th-Aug-2013 04:52 am (UTC)
fred phelps
opheliarose 5th-Aug-2013 04:51 am (UTC)
This is a wonderful thing and makes me feel all emotional just reading it. And I love that the article refers to him as Coach the entire time, it's such a little detail but will mean so much. And I definitely hope they find a cure for those kids!
becomingblurred 5th-Aug-2013 05:58 pm (UTC)
I got a little teary eyed that they referred to him as Coach, too. What a nice detail :o)
hot143chocolate 5th-Aug-2013 04:51 am (UTC)

Would this be a "league" of football stars ONTD fantasizes about? B/c that really would be more tailored to the interests of a community that largely thought of this year's superbowl as "that Beyonce & Destiny's Child concert with the football game."
sunsettwist 5th-Aug-2013 04:58 am (UTC)
mercystars 5th-Aug-2013 04:33 pm (UTC)
lolol true
foryoursake08 5th-Aug-2013 05:20 pm (UTC)
<3 your icon

I hope the Bengals have a good season. They've done well the last couple of years. I keep hoping, for my mom's sake, they'll get far into the playoffs.
fight4thislove 5th-Aug-2013 04:52 am (UTC)

me tbh.

Edited at 2013-08-05 04:52 am (UTC)
reforzado 5th-Aug-2013 04:56 am (UTC)
me too!
faister 5th-Aug-2013 05:00 am (UTC)
i'll totally make one! i'll make another football post tmrw and message everyone the links and stuff if they dont see
khaldrogo 5th-Aug-2013 05:01 am (UTC)
I'd also be interested!
hipster_douche 5th-Aug-2013 05:05 am (UTC)
kobewife1 5th-Aug-2013 05:55 am (UTC)
mechanically 5th-Aug-2013 06:52 am (UTC)
count me in
precioustears 5th-Aug-2013 11:28 am (UTC)
I'm totally in.
tsarinakate1 5th-Aug-2013 11:50 am (UTC)
ME too!
steph313 5th-Aug-2013 12:27 pm (UTC)
I'd play!
seashell_bikini 5th-Aug-2013 02:10 pm (UTC)
I want in !
lakers0604 5th-Aug-2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
I'm in.
for_serious13 6th-Aug-2013 12:00 am (UTC)
eigengrau 5th-Aug-2013 04:53 am (UTC)
what is fantasy football? lol
isntdaveone 5th-Aug-2013 04:54 am (UTC)

Edited at 2013-08-05 04:54 am (UTC)
blacklicorice99 5th-Aug-2013 04:58 am (UTC)
He looks like a black Ken doll to me
hormones 5th-Aug-2013 05:40 am (UTC)
omg yes you accurately named what i was trying to figure out
blacklicorice99 5th-Aug-2013 04:57 am (UTC)

Is there really a fantasy football league for ONTD? If so, give me deets
faister 5th-Aug-2013 04:59 am (UTC)
i'm gonna make one!! i'll make another football post tmrw with the link and deets and stuff
inflixion 5th-Aug-2013 04:58 am (UTC)
that's so sweet. cam seems cute with kids.

i'm in! msg me if it happens because i'm not on here enough to keep track.
faister 5th-Aug-2013 05:00 am (UTC)
ok i will!
genbu_no_miko24 5th-Aug-2013 05:00 am (UTC)
"Coach Bolton"

OMG :')
dizzy879 5th-Aug-2013 05:02 am (UTC)
Aww, that's a very sweet story.
khaldrogo 5th-Aug-2013 05:02 am (UTC)
ugh this is so cute
wallyace 5th-Aug-2013 05:04 am (UTC)
I'm interested in this ONTD fantasy league tbh.
mirandagirll 5th-Aug-2013 05:04 am (UTC)
Alabama fans love to bash Cam Newton, and it always ends up turning out as a racist remark in the process. smh

awwww qt story

Edited at 2013-08-05 05:05 am (UTC)
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