10-year old Ryan Kennedy touched the lives of many, including Stephen Tulloch

Posted Jun 3, 2012

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch has seen a lot of things throughout his life but it wasn’t until he met 9-year old Ryan Kennedy that he received a new outlook on it.

Ryan had been suffering from a rare form of brain cancer for over three years. He had gone through seven surgeries and multiple chemotherapy sessions, but nothing was able to destroy the tumor.

It finally got to the point where Ryan decided he was done fighting.

"He just told his mom, 'Mom, enough is enough. I can't take anymore.' She made him as comfortable as possible," said Tulloch.

At just 10 years old, Ryan passed away. He was able to make it to his 10th birthday on May 24th and died just two days later on May 26, 2012. He lost the battle to brain cancer after years of fighting but was able to spend his last few weeks with his family and friends.

After hearing about this boy and knowing that he only had a few days to live, Tulloch made the trip to go and visit him.

“It was a good little drive but it was well worth it to see his smiling face," said Tulloch. "I took some pictures with him, signed some balls, gave him a fathead, and played video games. I laid in bed with him for a little while just talking to him.

"He and his mother and brother and sister were there. It was something that I will probably never forget."

Tulloch first heard about the story on Mother’s Day when CNN aired a special on Ryan's story.

After seeing the special and receiving some phone calls about Ryan, Tulloch was touched and wanted to go meet this incredibly strong boy.

"He couldn't get up to go to the bathroom, he couldn't go outside. He just laid in bed all day," said Tulloch. "His brothers and sisters were by his side the whole time helping him out, but other than that it was just sad to see that life goes so fast."

"He'll never get married, he'll never have kids, he’ll never go out and play with his friends. Just sitting there, knowing that you're going to die in days."

Cancer is no stranger to Tulloch, he has lost a friend, a coach, and a teammate’s mother to the terrible disease.

"I know how cancer is. It's a hard thing. I don't care what size you are, how much money you have, it doesn't matter. It can happen to anybody. You kind of get a different perspective from that standpoint."

Tulloch has always been an active member of the community. He has his own foundation and is always getting involved in helping others.

Ryan’s story has inspired him, however, to do even more.

"I want to do more in the community when it comes to cancer. I started a foundation to help under privileged kids but I'm going to try and branch it out more," he said. "I want to visit hospitals and see if I can help kids and people in the hospital to put a smile on their faces and just give them encouragement the best way I can."