KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A North Carolina teen battling a rare form of cancer got a Big Orange surprise last week.
Noah Hays, 16, was diagnosed with stage four rhabdomyocarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He lives in Charlote, but has close ties to Tennessee. His grandfather Bill Hays was an usher at Neyland Stadium for more than 50 years and he says he hasn’t missed a Vol football game since he was 4 years old.
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Noah said last month meeting Coach Butch Jones was a priority on his bucket list.
On Friday, Noah received an honorary offer of admission to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He is only a high school junior, but college officials say the offer letter shows UT recognizes Noah’s Volunteer spirit and supports him in his fight.
Richard Long, UT’s regional admissions counselor for North Carolina and South Carolina, delivered the letter and a basket full of UT items to Noah at a children’s hospital in North Carolina.
“Noah’s dream school has always been the University of Tennessee,” Long said. “Recognizing his longtime passion for the Vols, Coach Butch Jones also called Noah and sent another small package, which I delivered the same day.”
Noah’s mother said the call from Jones both surprised and delighted him.
Noah’s family is trying to arrange for him to attend one of the remaining games this season, but his health and the family’s finances will determine if that happens.
The family has been chronicling Noah’s progress on a Facebook page which now has more than 2,180 likes. His GoFundMe site has raised more than $25,500 in two months to help the family deal with mounting medical bills.