Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who earlier this year was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has been busy spreading cheer to local children.
And he’s using area sports to help keep the enthusiasm going.
First, the governor took the field during the Ravens home opener at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore with four local children who were also diagnosed with cancer.
The children have each received treatment at the University of Maryland Medical System.
Hogan later he made his way to FedEx Field in Landover for the Washington Redskins home opener and again was accompanied by four children who are battling cancer and, like him, are fighting each day with the strength of a champion.
“I never expected to be in this position,” said the governor, who’s now 59. “But having gone through this experience myself, it has just opened up a whole new world.”
Hogan reported that his doctors informed him in August that 95 percent of his cancer was gone after he had received eight weeks of chemotherapy.
Still, the governor has lost his hair and eyelashes during the treatments and he’s using his experience as a rallying cry for others.
“I’m part of the club now. I’m one of them,” he said of the patients who accompanied him onto the football field where they met players and coaches from both the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins.
“They know when they see me they can also say, ‘He knows what chemotherapy is like.’”
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III made sure to greet the governor when he visited the stadium, offering his support and care.
“He’s a very nice and decent young man,” Hogan said of Griffin, now the Redskins’ backup quarterback. The governor even took time to post photos on his Facebook account and Twitter feed.
Hogan, a Republican who won stunned Democratic favorite Anthony Brown to win the governor’s seat last year, has made few public appearances since his diagnosis. However, he’s routinely appeared at childhood cancer awareness events, including at the football games and Oriole Park.
“We really need to bring awareness so people go get checked out,” he said. “It’s pretty cool out there on the field.”
Hogan noted to break the anticipation of the children at the pro stadiums, he told them that they didn’t have to be nervous, “but you do have to keep waving. It’s only 35 seconds, but it feels much longer.”
At M & T Bank Stadium, Hogan chatted with Ravens Coach John Harbaugh and later, during Pope Francis’ visit to the District, the governor received a blessing from the pontiff.
“I’m getting out of bed and I’m going to work, because we’re killing cancer cells. I don’t want to be lying around in the bed,” Hogan told reporters. “And, I kind of feel like if I keep moving, I’m doing more good.”