David Hurst, WNCN – HOUSTON (WNCN) — On Monday night, Colin Hopper and his fiance Cindy will be in NRG Stadium for the biggest college basketball game of the year.
"This will probably be the best experience I will have ever had," said Hopper, a diehard college basketball fan.
Hopper is able to go to the game thanks to the generosity of a Chapel Hill couple who passed up cheering on their Tar Heels in the Final Four and instead decided to donate their tickets to two cancer patients. Seven years ago, Hopper was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He says the past seven years have been a tough, long and painful journey.
"Since then we haven't been able to enjoy very many things," said Hopper. "I was screaming in the parking lot when I got a phone call saying I was going. People were looking at me like I was crazy."
Hopper is one of two cancer patients who received tickets to this weekend's Final Four in Houston. Fill Your Bucket List Organization, a Cary-based non-profit organization that grants wishes to adults with cancer, helped connect the Chapel Hill couple with Hopper and Mark Horn, who was able to attend the Final Four games Saturday night.
"It was totally unexpected, I got a call out of the blue on Friday night saying I was going to the game," said Horn, who had his right leg amputated after doctors found a tumor on his leg in 2013. He's since undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy. "Events like Saturday night make me feel like I'm not sick anymore."
The Chapel Hill couple, who are huge UNC fans, preferred to remain anonymous. Hopper and Horn say no words can express their gratitude for the couple and everyone else who made this memorable experience possible.
"It's amazing. I know that they didn't have to do that," said Horn. "The fact that they were willing to give me that experience, it's great. It's not something I would have got to do otherwise."
"We have fought and clawed for everything that has happened, nothing was given to us," said Hopper. "Having something given to us for a change, it's just two completely different feelings."
Dan's House of Hope, a Houston-based non-profit organization that helps young adults battling cancer, helped Fill Your Bucket List get connected with Hopper and Horn. For more information about the organizations, visitwww.danshouseofhope.org/ andwww.fillyourbucketlistfoundation.org/